Friday, June 10, 2016
Mr. Hockey has slipped past the goalie.
Gordie Howe has passed away at the age of 88. A four time Stanley Cup Winner with the Red Wings he was one of the greatest hockey players I ever saw. I remember seeing him in 1968 when he was on line with Delvecchio and Mahovlich. That was one of the best lines I ever saw up there with Gretzky and the one on the Islanders. Gordie must have been in his forties by then.
I used to live in the Garden back in the day. At the Stadium in the summer and the Garden in the winter. We used to score student discount tickets for about two bucks a piece. This guy Charlie in the neighborhood always had a hook and we could usually score a couple of ducats. Always on the day of and often just an hour or so before the game. If he couldn't lay them off for big bucks we would get them. We always wanted the Knicks which was the time right before they won in '69. I was a big Cazzie Russel fan back then. And a Phil Jackson fan if you can believe that shit. Anyhoo we would get the occasional Knick ticket but more often than not we would score Rangers tickets.
The Rangers had a decent team. The thing was there were only twelve teams back then. All of the sports had many fewer teams. So much so that new leagues sprung up like the AFL to expand the reach of the sports. I used to know the names of just about every player on every team. The Rangers had guys like Eddie Giacomin, Rod Gilbert, Vic Hadfield, Jean Ratelle and Brad Park. The 1968 team was just about my all time favorite. The battles they had with the lowlife Bruins were the greatest. The Red Wings weren't as big a rival. You respected them. Not as much as you respected the Canadians but still Howe was a living legend.
Gordie Howe was the living embodiment of his team. He stayed with them for most of his career until he made an ill-fated comeback so he could play with his sons when he was in his fifties. The last time I saw him play I think he was on the Whalers in Connecticut. He was stumbling around like Willie Mays when he was on the Mets. Textbook case of someone who hung on too long. So the fans that saw him then had no idea what he was like when he was in his prime. Or even what he was in his forties like in 1968. It is a shame.
I gave up on hockey a long time ago. Right around the time they started wearing helmets. That was the end of it for me. They expanding and put teams in ridiculous places like Florida. They prostituted and destroyed the sport. As they have done with most sports. The time were a kid could be a fan and memorize the teams rosters and the players statistics is over. There are way too many teams. Way to many marginal players. Plus they bring in people from Europe who play a different style. It all went to shit as far as I am concerned.
But Gordie Howe was a giant. It's like Babe Ruth or Mickey Mantle or Johnny Unitas croaked or something. His passing should be noted. May he rest in peace.