This is Mark Howe in a truly unique uniform. Long before the Whalers became the Hurricanes Gordie’s kid was a quality NHL defender (who could also jump up to the wing) and many hockey fans believe he is among the two or three best players outside the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I’ve been looking at major injuries through NHL history, and whenever we talk about the bad ones Mark Howe’s name comes up early in the conversation.
In late 1980 (Dec 27), Howe crashed into the goal and impaled himself on the metal post at the center of the net (the post is no longer in use, obviously). It was among the most horrifying events in the game’s history, and Howe was sidelined six weeks and lost a tremendous amount of weight (and became weak) because of a liquid diet (because there was great fear of intestinal infection from the injury).
Amazingly, the injury didn’t have a huge impact on his numbers. He scored 80 points in 74gp the previous season, and managed 65 in 63gp during the 80-81 season.
Mark Howe was an amazing athlete. Among his feats:
- Member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team at age 16.
- Outstanding baseball player (a catcher).
- Tremendous golfer.
- Played on Memorial Cup winner 1972-73
- Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy (Memorial Cup Tournament MVP)(1973)
- WHA Second All-Star Team (1974)
- Lou Kaplan Trophy (WHA Rookie of the Year)(1974)
- WHA First All-Star Team (1979)
- NHL First All-Star Team (1983,1986,1987)
- NHL Plus/Minus Leader (1986) (+85)
- Played in NHL All-Star Game (1981,1983,1986,1988)
- Assisted on Gordie Howe’s final NHL goal in Hartford’s playoff game at Montreal on April 9, 1980
- Was Norris Trophy runner-up and Masterton Trophy finalist in 1982-83.
- Was Norris Trophy finalist and Hart Trophy finalist in 1985-86.
- Led all NHL defensemen with plus-57 rating in 1986-87.
- Was Norris Trophy finalist in 1986-87.
- At pro level, began playing defense in 1976-77 but did not play defense exclusively until he entered the NHL (I believe he played some LW in 82-83).
I understand the HHOF frowns upon those players who do not play for dynasties and didn’t win hardware, but it is a mystery to me that Mark Howe is outside Hockey’s Hall.
It reflects badly on the game.