The great Gordie Howe has passed on at the age of 88. Everyone in the hockey world is mourning his loss and celebrating his life as well. When Howe was 15 years old, he attended a New York Rangers training camp and unfortunately failed to impress. Sadly, the rest is history as he went to Detroit and led them to 4 Stanley Cups.
His first in 1950 came at the expense of the Rangers…go figure.
Howe was one of the greatest all around players the game has ever seen. He could score, pass and beat the living hell out of you. Matter of fact, if you score a goal, get an assist, and get into a fight it is known as the “Gordie Howe Hat-Trick”. Pretty cool.
So just how tough was Gordie? Well one of the meanest Rangers to ever pull the Broadway Blue over his head, Lou Fontinato could tell you as he learned the hard way.
Back in 1959, Eddie Shack of the Rangers was running around and riling the Wings up. Howe had enough and gave Eddie an elbow that caused 3 stitches. This led to Fontinato giving Howe a warning.
As per the site Third String Goalie:
When later in the game Shack was in a scrap with Detroit’s Red Kelly, Howe joined the fight to help out his teammate Kelly and put Shack in his place when Fontinato came looking for him. Fontinato wasted no time in unleashing a fury of punches on Howe. Unfortunately for Fontinato, Howe remained conscious and was now incensed. He grabbed Fontinato’s sweater with one hand and fired back repeatedly with the other. Howe connected with his first punch, which stopped Fontinato in his tracks. Howe’s arm was described as “working like a piston” and the sound of his fist hitting Fontinato face again and again in rapid fire made a permanent impression on those who heard it – as well as Fontinato’s face – with most descriptions of the blows comparing it to the sound of an axe chopping wood.
When it was all said and done, Fontinato’s nose moved to another zip code and Howe dislocated his finger from bashing poor old Lou so hard. Old Time Hockey at its finest.
RIP Mr. Hockey. May the all the rinks in heaven rejoice at your coming and keep their guard up too.