Happy Easter to everyone reading (and not reading although you wouldn't know that I said that)!!
And what kind of hockey fan would I be if I didn't wish Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, a happy 85th birthday.
Howe came into the league in 1946 and quickly became one of the most dominant players in the history of the NHL. Don't believe me? The guy finished in the top five in scoring for 20 straight seasons. 20 straight seasons. Yes, that's not a typo. 20 STRAIGHT SEASONS! To put that in perspective, he was leading the NHL for a longer period of time than most of the rookies from the last three years have been alive.
Howe could play and he proved it night in and night out. He was like the "ironman" of hockey. Even a fractured skull couldn't keep him away from the game. In 1960, he scored his 1,000th point in less than 1,000 games (938 to be exact) and was the first player ever to do so. He was a 14 year veteran in the league at that point and it took eight years before someone else duplicated that feat (Jean Beliveau). Three years later, he notched his 600th goal, again being the first player in NHL history to do so (Bobby Hull would do it too, seven years later.)
Despite retiring to join the Red Wings front office, his love of the game and the chance to play with his sons took him into the WHA to play for both the Houston Aeros and the New England Whalers. His final season after the Whalers joined the NHL in 1979-80 was somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of Wayne Gretzky into the league but he still managed to put up 15 more goals to end his professional career with 975 (801 in the NHL) at the age of 50.
His final all-time stats rank him #1 in games played, #2 in goals, #3 in points, and #8 in assists.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Hockey! There will never be another like you.