Mr. Hockey: My Story
Gordie Howe is, arguably, one of the three greatest players to ever play professional hockey. The other two who can be mentioned in the same breath are Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr. Ironically, Orr writes the foreword to this autobiography, while Gretzky provides a tribute on the back cover.
What makes MR. HOCKEY so special is the fact that everything you are reading is coming directly from Howe --- there is no co-author or ghostwriter involved. Thus the book is that much more special as readers are allowed to step into Howe's skates and go for a ride that no other professional hockey player has ever taken.
Most of his all-time records have been surpassed, a majority of them by Gretzky, but there is one that probably never will be eclipsed in any sport: Howe played professional hockey for five decades, an unfathomable feat.
"What makes MR. HOCKEY so special is the fact that everything you are reading is coming directly from Howe --- there is no co-author or ghostwriter involved.... a genuine, humble and extremely talented man."
Even though Howe claims the happiest years of his career were those spent in the World Hockey Association with his two sons, Mark and Marty, his own beginnings were far more humble. Born in Floral, Saskatchewan, and later relocating to the village of Saskatoon, Howe was raised in the high plains of the Canadian prairies during the Great Depression. There wasn't much for him to do outside of sports --- and he excelled at all of them.
Howe can officially point his finger to a moment when his best friend, Frank Shedden, came down with pneumonia, and his father let Howe use his hockey equipment. He took to the equipment and the game with a natural fervor, and would excel at junior hockey in just his mid-teens. He received notice from the Detroit Red Wings and had the opportunity to join their minor league franchise in Omaha at just 17. More than anything, he recalls wanting to wear a Red Wings jacket to prove that he made it.
While that promised jacket from Red Wings owner Jack Adams never came through, Howe got something even better --- a chance to play for the team at just 18 years of age. This was the start of 25 NHL seasons with the Red Wings during which time they won four Stanley Cups. Howe himself received six Hart Trophies as League MVP and six Art Ross Trophies as League Top Scorer. Much of this was achieved while there were only six NHL teams, and the competition to remain at that level was extremely difficult.
Howe jokes that he never was considered for the Lady Bing Trophy, given to the most gentlemanly or sportsmanlike player in the league. He was a tough and rugged player from start to finish and could scrap with the best of them. His one soft spot is his family --- the love of his life, his wife Colleen, and their four children. Unfortunately, Colleen passed away in 2009 from a rare form of dementia called Pick's disease. MR. HOCKEY, which is dedicated to Colleen and the rest of his family, is a great book about a genuine, humble and extremely talented man.
Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 7, 2014