Gordie Howe and the Detroit Vipers
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10-19-2013, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Originally Posted by
I have a couple questions about Gordie Howe. There's a thread on the ECHL board about the oldest minor pro player and I had remembered Gordie Howe doing a publicity stunt with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL at age 69. It had me wondering why? Other than a couple of fabricated records as oldest pro player and playing in 6 consecutive decades, I don't see what Gordie had to gain.
There has been a perception over the years that Gordie's late wife Colleen was constantly working behind the scenes to keep his public profile up, no matter what the negative impact might be. There was a huge tour done for his 65th birthday that involved appearances in 65 hockey cities, which was largely negatively received. There was some type of a cereal deal, a big public flap over the official biography coming out around the same time as the unauthorized one, and then it all sort of culminated with the Vipers deal.
Rocket Richard was the one who said something like, "It's a disgrace. Colleen leads him around by the nose and he won't say anything about it." That was an oddly popular opinion.
My last question on this tangent, is would the IHL have been more viable in the NHL cap era? I know the IHL had tried to become more than simply the AHL's equivalent and more like a WHA in a sense (though the IHL never went after NHL free agents to compete head to head). What I mean is now with the cap, I'd think more NHL players nearing the end of their careers are not being offered deals to play as they are worth more than their performance would dictate. A league like the IHL that was trying to attract these types would give a home to these players instead of retiring or moving to Europe for a season or two. I have a feeling at least a few of these players who have gone to the KHL or Switzerland would have stayed in North America if an equivalent league still existed.
I've been saying for years that an independent or mostly-independent minor league with a capped NHL is absolutely viable, and frankly should be done. If it were more limited in scope, like being contained mostly within the Midwest, it would alleviate a lot of problems that the IHL's coast-to-coast (over)expansion brought.
And if I win the lottery, you'll see a new IHL.
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