Today in Detroit Sports History – Mr. Hockey becomes No. 9

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Mr. Hockey, Mr. Everything, Mr. All-Star, The King of Hockey, The Legend, Mr. Elbows, The Great Gordie, No. 9. Gordie Howe, a Detroit legend, one of the greatest players to ever lace up a pair of skates. So how did he get to become known simply by his jersey number?

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As a rookie, Howe donned the No. 17 on the back of his jersey. Roy Conacher wore the No. 9 during Howe’s rookie campaign. Roy Conacher was moved to the Chicago Blackhawks following the 1946-1947 season and the No. 9 was now available. The jersey number was offered to Gordie but he initially declined. Along with the lower jersey number came the entitlement to a lower Pullman berth on road trips. Howe gladly accepted the change.

On October 29, 1947, Howe wore No. 9 for the first time. For the remainder of his career, Mr. Hockey wore the No. 9 sweater. Gordie Howe played for parts of six decades and his Red Wings career went from 1946-1947 until 1970-1971, when he was forced to retire (the first time) due to a chronic wrist injury. The Detroit Red Wings retired the No. 9 on March 12, 1972.

“The Production Line” featured Howe, Sid Abel and Ted Lindsay. That line played together for many seasons. The trio finished 1,2,3 in scoring in the 1949-1950 season. They also led the Wings to the Stanley Cup Championship four times.

Howe won the Art Ross and Hart Memorial trophies 6 times each. He also led the league in scoring five times and was an All-Star an amazing 23 times. Mr. Hockey, No. 9, passed away in 2016 at the age of 88.  Red Wings fans will always remember Gordie as his No. 9 hangs in the rafters of the LCA.

Bonus Content:

On This Day: Ted Lindsay makes his NHL debut with Red Wings in 1944

t was 74 years ago to the day. The Detroit Red Wings had just signed an impressive 19-year old youngster to a contract days beforehand. Little did that scrappy teenager know he’d take, what “future Ted” would reckon, about 700 stitches across his NHL career. That kid would come to be known as “Terrible” Ted Lindsay, making his NHL debut in a 7-1 victory over the Boston Bruins.

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