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01-24-2012, 06:18 PM
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The Flyers select a player that personifies the style that we plan to build our team around, RW Gordie Howe

23x NHL All Star Game Participant
6x Art Ross Trophy Winner
6x Hart Trophy Winner
1x Gordie Howe Trophy Winner(WHA MVP)
12x NHL 1st Team All Star
9x NHL 2nd Team All Star
2x WHA 1st Team All Star
4x Stanley Cup Champion
2x WHA Champion
19x Top 8 Goals NHL(1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7, 7, 8)
22x Top 9 Assists NHL(1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 9)
21x Top 10 Points NHL(1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 9)
11x Top 9 Goals NHL Playoffs(1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 6, 6, 7, 9)
13x Top 8 Assists NHL Playoffs(1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 4, 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 8)
13x Top 9 Points NHL Playoffs(1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 4, 4, 5, 6, 8, 8, 9)
4x Top 7 WHA Assists(2, 6, 7, 7)
4x Top 9 WHA Points(3, 8, 9, 9)
Total Hart Trophy Voting Record: (1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 7, 7)
Total All Star Voting Record: (1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 5)

Why Gordie Howe - And Not Wayne Gretzky - Is The Greatest Player Of All Time By Stan Fischler

Who was the greatest hockey player of all time?

Contemporary experts would have you believe that Wayne Gretzky holds that distinction. However, those experts would be wrong.

Gordie Howe, who launched his NHL career in 1946-47 and concluded it in 1979-80, is the greatest player of all time for a very simple reason: he could do more things better in a hockey game than anyone who ever laced on a pair of skates.

He shot better. He hit harder. He checked better and he could pass with Gretzky on the best playmaking day Wayne ever had.

Not to mention the intimidation factor. Take Mark Messier in his prime, multiply him by ten, and you begin to understand why Howe was so feared.

...former New York Rangers right winger Aldo Guidolin once summed up the prevailing opinion on Gordie's stickhandling: "Howe plays the 'funny kind of game' - he doesn't let anyone touch the puck." One reason for that was Gordie's ambidextrous shooting ability. By switching hands, he could fire equally as well from either side. No other superstar could make that statement.

"If Gordie had played in the (watered-down) NHL the way it is today," said Storey, "he'd have 1000 goals, instead of 801, and Gretzky never would have caught him. Howe was a marvel playing after he was 50. He and (Canadiens defenseman) Doug Harvey were the best natural athletes I've known."

The Howe vs. Gretzky debate really isn't one because Gordie was the quintessential multi-dimensional player. Why, Gordie could even be a defenseman.

..."Everything you can think of in hockey, Howe is"...

Behind Howe's cache of talent was muscle on top of muscle. In the frontier-era in which he played - also known as old time hockey - superstars were expected to fight their own battles and, remarkably, they did.

During that century of stickhandling, there never has been a superstar who could fight as well as Howe.

Hollett: "Gordie is the greatest player I ever saw and that includes all the greats including xxx, xxx and xxx. Howe was the only man who could switch hands when he was right in on goal. And if they had put him back on defense, he could have been an All Star."

He isn't called Mister Hockey for nothing. Gordie Howe has been called a lot of other things as well. Like the greatest all-around hockey player who ever lived.

Howe was a right wing possessed of extraordinary strength in a body measuring six feet one inch, and 200 pounds, at a time when that was considered huge by league standards. Howe's armament was the most formidable the game had known. "His shot was uncanny," said goalie xxx, a Hall of Famer, "because it would come at the net in so many different ways."

...would deliver a remarkably accurate shot with so fluid a motion that goalies frequently fail to see the puck leave Gordie's stick.

in 1960, Richard was the first to allow that Howe was the best of them all. "Gordie," said Richard, "could do everything."

No matter where Gordie skated, his trademark - effortless excellence - made an impression on critics. "Gordie had the ability and the knack for making the difficult plays look easy, routine,"...

He was an incredibly gifted forward, an accomplished defensive player, reserved as a team man and the only player to have dominated three eras- the postwar NHL, the Golden Era of the 1960s and the expansion era.

"He was not only the greatest hockey player I've ever seen," said former teammate Bill Gadsby, "but also the greatest athlete."

The goals began to come in bunches, and Howe mesmerized both enemy and teammate alike. His stickhandling was so uncanny, Captain Sid Abel felt moved to reprimand young Gordie. "I don't mind this great stickhandling of yours," said Abel, "but why stickhandle around the same player three times?"

A tough, physical player, Howe distinguished himself with his deft scoring touch, his powerful fists, and his unprecedented longevity.

. He quickly established himself as a great goal scorer and a gifted playmaker with a willingness to fight. In fact, Howe fought so often in his rookie season that coach Jack Adams told him, "I know you can fight. Now can you show me you can play hockey?"

During this time Howe and his linemates, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay, were known collectively as "The Production Line", both for their scoring and as an allusion to Detroit auto factories. The trio dominated the league in such a fashion that in 1949–50, they finished one-two-three in league scoring. Howe had been in his prime during a defensive era, the 1940s and 1950s, when scoring was difficult and checking was tight.

As Howe emerged as one of the game's superstars, he was frequently compared to the Montreal Canadiens' Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Both were right wingers who wore the same sweater number (9), were frequently contenders for the league scoring title, and could also play rough if needed. During their first encounter in the Montreal Forum, when Howe was a rookie, he knocked Richard out cold with a punch after being shoved

Of the list, Orr was quoted as regarding Howe as the greatest player.

Gordie Howe is referred to as simply "Mr. Hockey". World War II had just ended when he first entered the National Hockey League, and when he played his final NHL season 33 years later, Wayne Gretzky was playing his first. Over those five decades, Howe didn't just survive, he was dominant - on the scoring lists, in battles in the corners, on game-winning goals and when the year-end awards were handed out. He was a big man, though by modern standards no behemoth, but what set him apart was his incredible strength.

Though other superstars could be deemed somewhat better scorers, tougher fighters or faster skaters, no player has approached Gordie Howe's sustained level of excellence. Incredibly, Gordie finished in the top 5 in NHL scoring for 20 straight seasons. To endure and excel, Howe needed a unique set of qualities, both physical and mental, and the foundations for his astonishing career were laid in him from an early age.

Howe was put on a line with Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay and over the next three years the troika and the Detroit team became the league's best. Howe more than doubled his scoring in his third year and played in his first All-Star Game in 1948. True to his nature in his early years, he spent five minutes of the All-Star showcase in the penalty box for fighting. The Howe-Lindsay-Abel line was named "the Production Line" for its scoring proficiency in 1948-49 when Lindsay and Abel placed third and fourth in league scoring. Lindsay was the truculent and tough left winger who also had the skills to make and finish plays. Abel, the center, was a smooth skater and an accurate passer, and at seven years their senior the veteran of the line. Howe could do it all, and his scoring improved as he spent less time in the penalty box.

Apart from his forbidding temperament, Howe's athletic and savvy playing style also contributed to his longevity. He never wasted energy if he didn't need to, especially after he cut down on the number of fights he'd take part in early in his career. He was economical with his movements, anticipating when and where the play would intersect with his effortless progress around the ice. He often played 45 minutes of a game when the average total was 25. Observers noticed that when his exhausted line returned to the bench, Howe was the first to recover and raise his head, ready for another shift.

In all, Howe was selected to 21 NHL All-Star squads, 12 times to the First Team. Six times he led the NHL in scoring to capture the Art Ross Trophy and six times he won the Hart as the league's most valuable player. His Detroit teams won the Stanley Cup four times.

Howe had been in his prime during a defensive era, the 1940s and 1950s, when scoring was difficult and checking was tight. When he was 40, in 1967, the league expanded from six to 12 teams and the number of offensive opportunities grew with it. Howe played the 1968-69 season on a line with Alex Delvecchio and Frank Mahovlich, the mercurial but talented star who had moved to Detroit from Toronto. Mahovlich was big, fast and skilled and Delvecchio was a gifted playmaker. The three were dubbed "the Production Line 3" and Howe's scoring returned to the levels of his youth and then beyond. He topped 100 points for the first time, scoring 44 goals and adding a career-high 59 assists.

The right winger was a giant in his time at 6'1" and 205 lbs. He had the build of a heavyweight boxing champion. And he knew how to fight.

Part of the legend of Gordie Howe is his unmatchable toughness. He had "windshield wiper elbows" and like to give "close shaves" to anyone who dared to challenge. Ask any hockey experts who they'd choose as the toughest NHLer ever, and most would put their money on Gordie Howe against anyone else.

Those who knew Gordie away from the rink would never believe his on ice instincts.

"Despite an even temperament and a real distaste for combat, there is a part of Howe that is calculatingly and primitively savage," Mark Kram wrote in Sports Illustrated in 1964. "He is a punishing artist with a hockey stick, slashing, spearing, tripping and high-sticking his way to a comparative degree of solitude on the ice."

While few in the game were tougher than "Mr. Hockey," even fewer were more talented. In his prime in the 1950s and 1960s he was routinely described by coaches as the smartest player, the finest passer, the best playmaker and the most unstoppable puck carrier in the game. Aldo Guidolin, an opponent of Howe back in the early days, understatedly remarked "Gordie plays a funny kind of game; he doesn't let anyone else touch the puck!"

Gordie Howe not only outperformed everybody, but outlasted everybody. Gordie played from 1946 until 1980. In his last season he was a 51 year old grandfather playing with and against players the were old enough to be his son! Howe played 33 seasons in the pros. One with Omaha of the USHL, 26 in the NHL (25 with Detroit) and 6 with the WHA.

While Wayne Gretzky has since dwarfed all of his statistical achievements, Howe dominated the game over many different eras.

His credentials speak for him. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, and 1963. He led the NHL in scoring in 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957 and 1963. He finished in the top 5 of NHL scoring in 20 consecutive seasons. He was a 21 time All Star.

Howe did not set the league on fire right away. Howe spent more time establishing his physical reputation in that time, scoring a total of only 35 goals but dropping the gloves with any and all comers. The Red Wings were able to convince him that he would be better served to stay out of the penalty box, the ambidextrous shooter scored 35 goals in 1949-50, second in the NHL to Rocket Richard's 43.

His 1951-52 MVP season was even sweeter. After leading the NHL in scoring (86 points) and goals (47), he led Detroit to an 8-0 record in the playoffs in its sweep to the Stanley Cup.

In 1952-53, Howe became the first player to score at least 90 points, notching 95, with a career-high 49 goals. The Red Wings, who were upset by Boston in the first round of the playoffs that season, rebounded by winning the Cup in 1954 and 1955, giving them four championships in six years. The Wings enjoyed one of hockey's greatest dynasties, but it proved to be Howe's last Stanley Cup.

Over a period of 32 years (combining NHL and WHA totals) Gordie Howe scored 1071 goals 1518 assists and 2589 points. Only Wayne Gretzky's career totals are better. Howe was a gifted power forward, an accomplished defensive player, a feared giant and the only player to have dominated three different eras - postwar NHL, the Golden Era of the 1960s and the Expansion Era.

An in-depth statistical analysis of Gretzky, Lemieux, Orr, and Howe(credit to FissionFire):

"Howe is the best player in hockey, great on defense and scores goals when we need them the most," added Abel, a former star skater for Detroit. Abel played on the same line with Howe for several seasons.

The Wings coach made his comments in rebuttal to Richard's charges that Howe lacks enthusiasm, should hustle more and is used as a defensive penalty killer (when Detroit is shorthanded).

"Gordie is so much better than most of the players that he could slow down 50 percent and still be one of the best in the National Hockey League..."

"He's a great competitor and always was easy to handle...I remember early in his career that he had five fights in a row and won all of them. They respected him after that."

"But as an all around player, no one in the history of the game compares to Howe."

-Jack Adams

"He's the strongest player I've ever seen," said Kings general manager Larry Regan. "He once carried me and the puck half the length of the ice and scored the goal. There are hundreds of stories like that in hockey. You don't take a shot at Howe and not expect retaliation. It won't be anything crude, either, just something subtle-and effective."

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