Gordon "Gordie" Howe, OC (March 31, 1928 – June 10, 2016) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. From 1946 to 1980, he played twenty-six seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) and six seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA); his first 25 seasons were spent with the Detroit Red Wings. Nicknamed "Mr. Hockey", Howe is considered the most complete player to ever play the game and one of the greatest ice hockey players of all time. A 23-time NHL All-Star, he held many of the sport's scoring records until they were broken in the 1980s by Wayne Gretzky. He continues to hold NHL records for most games and seasons played. On January 1, 2017, in a ceremony prior to the Centennial Classic, Howe was part of the first group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.
Howe was recruited by the Red Wings and made his NHL debut in 1946. He led the league in scoring each year from 1950 to 1954, then again in 1957 and 1963. He ranked among the top ten in league scoring for 21 consecutive years and set a league record for points in a season (95) in 1953. He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings four times, won six Hart Trophies as the league's most valuable player, and won six Art Ross Trophies as the leading scorer.
Howe retired for the first time in 1971 and was immediately inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame that same year. He was then inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the next year. However, he came back two years later to join his sons Mark and Marty on the Houston Aeros of the WHA. Although in his mid-40s, he scored over 100 points twice in six years. He made a brief return to the NHL in 1979–80, playing one season with the Hartford Whalers, then retired at the age of 52. His involvement with the WHA was central to their brief pre-NHL merger success and forced the NHL to expand their recruitment to European talent and to expand to new markets.
Howe was most famous for his scoring prowess, physical strength, and career longevity, and redefined the ideal qualities of an ice hockey forward. He is the only player to have competed in the NHL in five different decades (1940s through 1980s). Although he only achieved the feat twice in his own career, he became the namesake of the "Gordie Howe hat trick": a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game. He was the inaugural recipient of the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008.