Gordie Howe

Career

  • NHL: 1946-71; 1979-80; 26 seasons, 25 quality
  • Totals:
    • 801G (2nd All Time – Howe was the career leader in goals from 1963-64 until 1993-94),
    • 1049A (9th – Howe was the career leader in assists from 1957-58 until 1987-88) for
    • 1850P (4th – Howe was the career leader in points from 1959-60 until 1989-90),
    • 87 (since 1967-68] in 1767 games (1st);
    • 217.1 PS (1st at his retirement, Howe is now 3rd All Time)
  • Per Games: At his initial retirement in 1971 Howe was
    • 6th All Time in GPG, and
    • 5th in APG and
    • 5th in PPG (Howe was the career leader in PPG from 1953-54 until 1958-59)
    • (8. Minimum 500 games -if the qualifier is raised to 750 games, Howe was 3rd in GPG, APG and 4th in PPG All time)
  • At his initial retirement, Howe was 1st All Time in Offensive Point Shares (Howe is now 2nd)
  • Era: It does not make sense to talk about how Howe compares to his era because he played longer than anyone else and scored more than everyone else
  • 82-game average: 37G, 48A for 86P
  • 3-year peak (1950-53): 70-game average of 46G, 43A for 89P
  • Playoffs:
    • Totals:
      • 68G (17th All Time),
      • 92A (Howe was the career leader in playoff assists from 1957 until 1971) for
      • 160P (20th – Howe was the career leader in playoff points from 1964 until 1971) in
      • 157 games
  • Adjusted:
    • Hockey-Reference:
      • 925G (1st All Time), 1265A (2nd) for 2190P (2nd)
      • Adjusted 82-game average: 43G, 59A for 102P
      • If the qualifier is set to 750 games, Howe is 7th All Time in Adjusted PPG (If the qualifier raised to 1,000 games, Howe is 3rd All Time)
  • WHA: 1973-79; 6 seasons, all quality
  • 174G (16th), 334A (7th) for 508P (7th), +136 in 419 games
  • Howe is 6th All Time in APG and 8th in PPG
  • 82-game average: 34G, 66A for 99P, +27
  • 3-year peak (1973-76): 78-game average of 34G, 72A for 106P, +30
  • Playoffs: 28G, 43A for 71P in 78 games.

Accomplishments

  • Hart (’52, ’53, ’57, ’58, ’60, ’63) – in 1963, this was an NHL record, now Howe has the 2nd most trophies All Time
  • Top 5 in Hart voting a further ten times (’51, ’54, ’59, ’61, ’62, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’68, ’69)
  • Back Check MVP (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’63)
  • Back Check Best Player (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’63)
  • Art Ross (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’58, ’60, ’63) – this was an NHL record, now Howe has the 2nd most trophies All Time)
  • Best Player (by Point Shares) once (’53), Top 5 nine times (’51, ’52, ’54, ’56, ’57, ’63, ’68, ’69), Top 10 sixteen times (’50, ’55, ’58, ’59, ’62, ’65, ’66)
  • Best Offensive Player (by Offensive Point Shares) six times (’51, ’52, ’53, ’54, ’57, ’64), Top 5 eighteen times (’50, ’55, ’56, ’58, ’59, ’62, ’64, ’65, ’66, ’68, ’69), Top 10 twenty times (’60, ’61, ’67, ’70)
  • Single-season goal totals:
    • Scored 45 goals twice (1 of only 6 players to do so at his initial retirement in 1971)
    • 40 goals five times (19. 1 of only 2 players at his initial retirement in 1971)
    • 35 goals nine times (1 of only 2 players at his initial retirement, now 1 of only 17 players to accomplish this feat)
    • 30 goals fourteen times (the only player at his initial retirement, now 1 of only 5 players to accomplish this feat
    • 25 goals twenty times (still the only player ever)
    • 20 goals twenty-two times (still the only player ever)
  • Single-season assist totals:
    • Tallied 50 assists once (1 of only 25 players to do so at his initial retirement)
    • 40 assists eighteen times (the only player to do so at his initial retirement, and he accomplished this feat nearly twice as many times as the next player on the list – now he is 1 of only 3 players to accomplish the feat)
  • Single-season points twice:
    • Scored 100 points once (1 of only 6 players to do so at his initial retirement)
    • 90 points twice (1 of only 7 players at his initial retirement)
    • 80 points eight times (the only player at his initial retirement)
    • 70 points eighteen times (still the only player ever)
    • 60 points twenty one times (still the only player ever)
    • 50 points twenty two times (the only player at his initial retirement – now 1 of only 2 players to accomplish the feat)
  • Led the NHL in Goals five times, Top 5 fourteen times, Top 10 nineteen times
  • Led the NHL in GPG thrice, Top 5 fourteen times, Top 10 nineteen times
  • Led the NHL in Assists thrice, Top 5 seventeen times, Top 10 twenty-two times
  • Led the NHL in APG twice, Top 5 seventeen times, Top 10 twenty-one times
  • Led the NHL in Points six times, Top 5 fourteen times, Top 10 twenty-one times
  • Led the NHL in PPG seven times, Top 5 nineteen times, Top 10 twenty times
  • Top 5 in Plus Minus in the NHL once
  • 1st Team All Star twelve times, 2nd Team nine times
  • 23 All Star Games (one ceremonial All Star invite)
  • WHA (Gordie Howe was in his 40s when he played in the WHA):
    • Gordie Howe Trophy (’74) – WHA equivalent of The Hart
    • Scored 30 goals five times
    • Tallied 70 assists once, 60 assists four times, 40 assists five times
    • Scored 100 points twice, 90 points four times, 60 points five times
    • Top 5 in Assists once, Top 10 four times
    • Top 5 in APG twice, Top 10 four times
    • Top 5 in Points once, Top 10 four times
    • Top 5 in PPG once, Top 10 thrice
    • 1st Team All Star twice.

Great Teams

  • NHL:
    • Best Player (led the playoffs in goals and points) on one Runner Up (’64 Red Wings),
    • Best Player (led the playoffs in points) on two Runners Up (’61, ’63 Red Wings)
    • Best Player (by points) on one Runner Up (’56 Red Wings) and one Final Four (’57 Red Wings),
    • Best Skater (led the playoffs in goals and points) on one Champion (’55 Red Wings) and one Runner Up (’49 Red Wings)
    • Best Skater (by points) on one Champion (’54 Red Wings),
    • Top 6 Forward (by points) on one Runner Up (’66 Red Wings),
    • Top 3 Forward (led the playoffs in assists and points) on one Champion (’52 Red Wings),
    • Top 3 Forward (by points) on five Final Fours (’51, ’53, ’58, ’60, ’65 Red Wings),
    • Top 9 Forward (by points) on one Runner Up (’48 Red Wings),
    • Role Player (by points) on one Final Four (’47 Red Wings),
    • Injured on one Champion (’50 Red Wings)
  • WHA (Howe was in his 40s when he played in the WHA):
    • Best Forward (by points] on one Avco Cup Champion (’75 Aeros),
    • Top 3 Forward (by points) on one Champion (’74 Aeros),
    • Top 6 forward (by points) on two Runners Up (’76 Aeros, 78 Whalers) and one Final Four (’77 Aeros),
    • Role Player (by points] on one Final Four (’79 Whalers)
  • Summit Series:
    • Top 6? Player (by points) on one Summit Series Runner Up (’74 Canada).

Looking at this resume, it’s hard not to believe Gordie Howe is the Greatest Hockey Player of All Time. I mean, no one was as dominant for as long, period.

But there are two things that should call this conclusion into question: the first is that Howe played at a time where most players were not in shape a lot of the time. Though many people believe competition has been watered down in terms of talent, fitness levels are much, much higher now (also, defensive systems are much more complicated). It was probably easier for a really talented and healthy player to score back then, all other things being equal (which they’re not).

The second thing is that this man played the majority of his career in a six team league, so his playoff success looks ridiculous, when it really isn’t. The Red Wings were one of four good teams in a six team league when Howe was in his prime. They were in the playoffs all but two years of the first 20 years of Howe’s career and yet Howe won 4 Cups in this span. Now, I am not for one second saying this was How’s sole responsibility, I’m just saying that if Howe truly was the obvious choice for the Greatest Hockey Player of All Time, it’s worth wondering how many Cups he should have won with such short playoffs, where they were a “Final Four” team (by my silly reckoning) nearly every season.

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