Gordie Howe: NHL’s greatest player of all time?

If you are a fan of hockey, you probably pay great mind to the NHL odds, and the players in the game. For newer fans of the game, there is probably one name that you have heard of, but do not know enough about. 

Gordie Howe. The man is a legend who is considered in many ways to have been the NHL’s greatest player of all time. Can we say this is totally true? Well, there have been many epic players in the NHL throughout history, so that is hard. 

However, fans and the masses have spoken and believe Gordie Howe to be the best player ever. This is partially due to his epic achievements and his demeanor in the game. 

But, since there are so many epic players to note throughout NHL history, we are here to answer the truth of that burning question. If Gordie Howe is indeed the best player of all time in the NHL. 

Who Is Gordie Howe?

Gordie Howe, or Gordon Howe, passed away in June 2016, he was a Canadian ice hockey player, and from 1946 until 1980 he played in the NHL, as well as six seasons in the WHA. 

He spent his first 25 seasons in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings. 

Gordie Howe was nicknamed ‘Mr. Hockey’ as he was always considered to be the best and most complete player to play ice hockey. 

By the time he retired, he had an astounding 801 goals, 1049 assists, 1850 points under his belt, one of the highest records of all time, until Wayne Gretzky came along and broke his records of course. 

Gretzky himself viewed himself as being a champion of the legacy Howe left behind. 

Howe was also an NHL All-star a total of 23 times, and he still holds the record for the amount of seasons he played. In fact, this legend played a total of 1,767 games, a record only recently broken in 2021. 

People Believe Gordie To Be The Best Ever

Even though there have been many great players who followed in Howe’s wake, many people still believe Gordie Howe to be the best player of all time. Even though legends like Gretzky came after him. 

We can’t be sure if it is his peak years in Detroit that give people this view, perhaps his dominance in the league, or his longevity, maybe his statistics, but no matter which way you look at it, the evidence to back up this opinion is plentiful. 

If you were to try and conduct an analysis over the two leagues in which Gordie played, over four decades, it could be a challenge to account for all the levels of scoring and conditions of play to access this accurately. 

However, Howe’s appearance in the leagues and his dominance was so hardcore, that it is hard to argue that he was the best player to grace the ice.

Howe At His Peak

At his peak he played with the Red Wings, this was from 46 to 71 with this team, and his achievements in these 25 game seasons is absolutely jaw-dropping to say the least. 

He was leading the league in goals five times over, as well as being a runner up the same amount of times, and as well as leading the NHL in scoring six times too! 

Howe won the Hart Trophy as the MVP 6 times, and was a finalist the same amount of times as well. Gretzky is the only other player who can contend with these stats having beaten them. 

Over his 25 years of play, he won 158 points over 154 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. By the time he decided to retire, these stats were second to Beliveau’s stats. 

If you wanted to compare Howe to other great players in terms of stats, you have to recall that he didn’t play in the high scoring era of the NHL in 74 to 92. He was before this. In fact when Howe was playing the average goals per game per team was 3.00. 

A List Of Achievements

To get a full scope of Howe’s achievements let’s look at all the awards he won over the years of his active career.

Art Ross Trophy:  1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1957, 1963.

Goal Scoring Lead: 1951, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1963.

Hart Memorial Trophy: 1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963.

Stanley Cup: 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955.

WHA Avco World Trophy: 1974, 1975.

WHA First All-Star Team: 1974, 1975.

We could list all of his All-Star games, but we might be here forever if we did, it was just that many with 23 All-Star games, 12 First All-Star Team, and 9 Second All-Star Team Awards.

Howe & The World Hockey Association

Should Howe have ended his career with the NHL he would still have been one of the greatest players ever, however, he didn’t. He came out of retirement in 73 to play with his sons in the WHA. 

Even though he was in his late 40s at the time, he still dominated, and this is something that we can’t deny shows his greatness.

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