Monday, June 20, 2016
Mr. Howe-Mr. Hockey
Amongst other things, Gordie Howe was perhaps the greatest ambassador for the game of hockey. On the ice, and off the ice, he was Hockey.
As is the case with so many other fans, I have had a couple of opportunities to chat with the late Mr. Howe. Always genial, always most affable, he paved the way for young players in the game. He taught them how to relate to the public. Simply put, he said that if someone was going to wait for him to sign an autograph, then he would take the time to sign it. As you know, that is not always the case today.
Bobby Hull was the same way. There are countless tales told about buses having to wait while Bobby signed the last few autographs.
Only a couple of years ago, I was chatting with a seated Bobby Orr at a Panthers’ game in
Sunrise . I saw
Gordie getting off the elevator. I mentioned that to Bobby. He literally jumped
out of the chair to go and meet Mr. Howe. You could feel the respect. Florida
Later that evening, Gordie asked me where I was from. I told him I was from the
area. “I fished the Bay of Quinte several times, on occasion with Bobby Hull.” Belleville
Last weekend I had one of my “catching up chats” with my oldest and best friend, Peter Carver. I owe a great deal of my sports enthusiasm and knowledge to Peter, and to his dad, George, who was the sports editor at the Intelligencer in
Peter reminded me that we had met Gordie Howe, Len Lunde, “Red” Kelly, and
Metro Prystai “Across the Bay” from Belleville ,
on the Belleville Rednersville Road.
They often visited with a scrap medal dealer from
who cottaged in the area, a certain Mr. Leggate. Peter also remembered that the
boys ventured over to Tobe’s Detroit for the fine
ice cream. That would be another story. County
Almost twenty-five years ago, son Arty and I attended a card show in
Gordie had just finished an autograph session when we arrived. Arty asked Mr.
Howe as he was leaving the area, “Gordie , would you sign this for me?” He was
ignored. Again he asked, “Mr. Howe, would you sign this for me?” Toronto
Howe turned around and stated, rather curtly, “Young man, until you are polite about it, with a ‘Please’ or ‘Thank you’, I won’t sign anything.” Arty apologized, and rephrased his request. Gordie signed a blowup of the 1954-55 topps card for him. Lesson learned.
Over the past week or so, I have heard many different stories about encounters with “Mr. Hockey”. Many local fans met Gordie and Rocket Richard at the Quite Mall. That would be a combination of two of the greatest players of all time, from both of
language communities. Canada
When the photo was taken at the Hockey Hall of Fame with his son Mark, Gordie elbowed me as I was trying to look pretty for the camera. I asked, “What did you do that for?” He replied: “I’m famous for that!”
Meet me at the Quinte Sports Centre this Thursday at , for the unveiling of the historic plaque recognizing the efforts of Jack Laviolette, one of the founders of the