Together with the briber, Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Doug Gilmour, former Hartford Whalers and Philadelphia Flyer Defenseman Mark Howe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2011 earlier this week.
Howe started his career playing with his Father, Gordie Howe, in the WHA with the Houston Aeros as well as the New England Whalers (and later the Hartford Whalers) as Left Winger – even scoring 42 goals and 107 points in the 1978-79 WHA season. He shunned the Boston Bruins (who drafted him in the 1974 Amateur Draft) to continue to play with his Dad and his older brother Marty Howe, who was also a defenseman on the team. Eventually, Howe switched to Defense and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982 for Greg Adams, Ken Linseman and a couple of draft picks that ended up netting the Hartford Whalers hardly anything of value. Interestingly enough, his Father, who worked in the Whalers’ front office after his retirement in 1980, was unaware that the team was trying to work out a trade with the Flyers.
After the trade, Howe blossomed into a fierce leader of the Flyers, leading his team to two Stanley Cup victories while finishing second in the Norris Trophy voting three times despite teh fact that he originally started his career at Left wing. And Howe later appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals for the Detroit Red Wings shortly before retiring in 1995.
The question for me remains – what took so long to induct Howe? He was known as one of the best two way defensemen ever to play the game. He finished his career with 742 points in the NHL while also notching more than a point per game in his career in the WHA. Beside Bobby Orr, Dennis Potvin and perhaps Paul Coffey, Howe is one of the most famous Defenseman to play in the NHL in the 1970’s. In any event, it is a well-deserved honor.