EDITORIAL: Mr. Hockey and The Greatest

On the surface, one could not indentify two more different men than Gordie Howe and Muhammad Ali

These losses seem to happen in bunches and they are not happy occasions.

In 1946, a big strapping winger from Saskatchewan played his first season in the National Hockey League. Gordie Howe had an OK first season, but he didn’t win the rookie-of-the-year award. That honour went to Toronto Maple Leafs forward and current French Creek resident Howie Meeker.

It’s about the only award Howe didn’t collect in a career that spanned five decades and made him the greatest hockey player ever, before a youngster named Wayne Gretzky from Brantford, Ont., wearing number 99 in honour of the man named Mr. Hockey, grabbed that mantle. Or was it Bobby Orr? Don’t forget Maurice ‘The Rocket’ Richard. That debate will rage forever and depends on your definitions of what it means to be the best.

Gordie Howe died last week at the age of 88, roughly a week after the death of the world’s most famous athlete of all time, Muhammad Ali.

On the surface, one could not find two more different men than Howe and Ali. You would never see Gordie Howe on TV, trashing his opponent or boasting he’s The Greatest.

Howe was a humble, gentle man off the ice, happy to speak to everyone, taking time to speak to children or reporters or fans. He set the bar high and to this day, of all the athletes in major professional sports in North America, hockey players remain the most respectful and humble. Mr. Hockey set that standard. The stories — like the time not a decade ago he jumped behind the bench to help coach a group of eight-year-olds at a Lower Mainland rink and spent more than an hour after the game chatting with the youngsters and their parents — are numerous and have been relayed this past week.

At least two things link Howe and Ali, other than their athletic greatness. First, their ferocity in the ring or on the ice. Howe was a tough customer, to put it mildly, during an era of many tough customers. His elbows remain legendary and many would say you could see his face visibly change from the nice, gentle soul to fierce competitor the moment his skates hit the ice. Ali was known for the quickness and movement and athleticism never before shown by a heavyweight boxer. That made some forget just how tough a man he was, how hard he could punch and how much pain he endured.

Second, these men both devoted much of their retirement to helping the less fortunate of society. They truly cared. They really wanted to help people. Rest in peace Mr. Hockey and The Greatest. The world is a little emptier without you.

— Editorial by John Harding

Just Posted

Touring exhibit from Royal B.C. Museum highlights First Nations languages

Qualicum Beach Museum will be home to a variety of interactive stations

‘Dirty Money’ in Nanoose Bay: Dr. Peter German to speak at ElderCollege

‘This is an evolving study’: presenting up-to-date information on B.C. organized crime

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

Winter preparation underway for mid-Island highways

Drivers reminded to ready vehicles for changing conditions

Qualicum Beach council discusses helping out Orca Place residents

Town considers offer of temporary jobs in the future

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

British family deported after ‘accidental’ U.S. border crossing

U.S. officials deny it was mistake, release video of vehicle crossing into Washington from Langley

Kamloops man hangs on to back of stolen truck as suspect speeds away, crashes

The pickup truck was seen leaving the roadway before bursting into flames

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Most Read