Status: Former Philadelphia Flyers all-star defenseman. Member of U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Silver medalist at 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan. Three-time runner-up for Norris Trophy. Currently the chief pro scout for the Detroit Red Wings.
HT: 5-foot-11 WT: 185 pounds
DOB: May 28, 1955 In: Detroit
Hockey Inspirations: “Obviously my dad (Gordie) played hockey which began my interest. Probably my biggest inspiration was that I just loved to play the game. Just to have an opportunity to do what you love to do, especially as a kid, then you grow up and it ends up being your livelihood – I feel fortunate.”
First Hockey Memory: “One that sticks out most in my mind is just as a little kid, attending the two games when my dad scored his 544th goal and then three weeks later scored his 545th, which at the time was Rocket Richard’s record. And dad tied. Both games were against Montreal and both were in Detroit at the Olympia. I was maybe about eight or nine years old, so it was very impressionable.”
Nicknames: “Mostly just Howey.”
Favorite Movie: “Let’s see…I loved The Old Man and the Sea. Probably present day would probably be Braveheart.”
Last Book Read: “Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing.”
First Job: “I was self-employed as an 11- and 12-year-old boy. I had little contracts and I’d go around shoveling driveways and mowing lawns in the neighborhood. And I was a broom boy at the old Olympia, when they used to convert the floor over. My uncle Vern was head of the crew, so he got me in working there. Sometimes they’d have an event in the afternoon like the Harlem Globetrotters, we’d change the basketball floor, get the sub-flooring up and get the glass back on the boards. And we’d have to clean the stands. Or it was a hockey game in the afternoon and a concert at night; those were my favorite ones. I’d get to stay and watch the concerts. The best ones I’d say were Alice Cooper, Steppenwolf. They had three-in-one concert; I forget the other band. My dad took all of us four children to see The Beatles one time (1964). We sat about 20 rows up from ice level from about where the red line is. And you could see them playing their instruments. But you couldn’t hear a thing from all the girls screaming. So, I think, after an hour, we left. All you could hear was screaming and girls pulling their hair out. I like music. I used to own a record store years ago when I lived in Houston. I really enjoy music.”
Greatest Sports Moment(s): “Well, for me, it would have to be playing on the same team with my dad and my brother (Marty).”
Most Painful Moment: “Well. My most painful moment was just (in March) when my mother (Colleen) passed. It’s very hockey related because she was very instrumental in my brother and I being able to get to where we needed to be to become NHL players.”
Worst Injury: “I was playing in Hartford and I got skewered on the net. Yeah, so if you look at it in hindsight, I am very fortunate I’m still able to walk. The center point of the net pierced my rectal area and went in about five to five-and-a-half inches and actually had cut out on the other side. So I actually kind of had a hole almost all the way through my body. I lost five pints of blood and was pretty well in bed for four weeks because I ended up with a really bad infection. So I guess I’ve had other injuries that were probably more painful, but this one here because I lost so much blood. Shock set in. Some of the pain goes away, but it was very, very fearful. I remember laying on the ice and I knew kind of what had happened. And my instincts were, I thought I was going to die. I remember looking up and Nicky Fotiu was looking over me as my teammate. I mean, just the look in his eyes scared the hell out of me.”
Closest Hockey Friend: “Well, it would have to be my dad and my brother. A couple guys I played with in Philly; now as an assistant coach in Detroit, Brad McCrimmon and I have been very close. I talk to Brian Propp quite a bit, but I would think Brad’s my closest friend.”
Funniest Players Encountered: “There are a lot of them. A guy I just mentioned a little while ago, Nicky Fotiu was always playing pranks. I don’t think there was a day went by when he didn’t.”
Toughest Competitors: “There’s a lot of guys, but, I mean, I remember some of the really tough battles we used to have against teams. I always had a lot of respect for guys like Dale Hunter and Bryan Trottier. They weren’t always noted as big-time fighters, but they were just tough, tough competitors; they competed hard every night. And there are a few others I’m sure, I can’t remember all the names right now. I had a lot of games against those guys. Maybe the greatest competitor that I ever played against was Wayne Gretzky. Nobody ever looked at him as being tough, but mentally he’s as tough as anybody.”
Favorite Uniforms: “When I grew up I was an absolute huge fan of the Chicago jersey – the Chicago Blackhawks white jersey. I mean, I loved Bobby Hull and a lot of the guys who played there. As a kid growing up, the Hawks jersey was my favorite.”
Most Memorable Goal: “I guess probably the biggest I scored would have been ’85 when I scored an overtime goal against the Rangers at The Spectrum (in playoffs). The team had lost three years in a row and I’d been a part of two of those years. So, to lose in the first round…we had a lead that game. It kind of broke the ice and got the monkey off our team’s back a little bit.”
Funny Hockey Memory: “There are a lot of them. We had a guy here in Philly named Miroslav Dvorak, from Czechoslovakia and he was a pretty funny guy. We had a game at the old Spectrum, he got the puck behind the net. He came out in front and I don’t know what he was doing, but he lost it. The other team got it and they almost scored. He came to the bench, coach (Bob McCammon) is screaming and yelling at him pretty good, which is understandable. His nickname was Cookie. He said, ‘Cookie, what are you doing?’ And he looks at the coach and says, ‘Dipsy-doodle good for fans.’ He came out with that line, everybody on the bench was laughing. So I think the European guys were a little more relaxed about that than the North American players. There’s a whole bunch of stories like that.
“And one time we were actually in the (Stanley Cup) final (’85), we were going to have a five-on-three against us. Mike Keenan pulled Pelle Lindbergh just to kill the momentum and he was putting Bob Froese in the net – and Frosty hadn’t played in six, seven weeks. He’s going over the boards, Dvorak looks at him and goes, ‘Oh, good luck my friend.’ So if you could appreciate the moments and intensity and all, someone coming out with a line like that, you look back and it’s pretty amusing.”
Embarrassing Memory: “There’s been a lot. I remember one time I was playing in L.A. they had a two-on-one against me. I just tripped on something, I swear I tripped on the red line. And they go in and score on a two-on-none. But for me, just having the opportunity to play against Mario Lemieux. He was as good as anybody I’ve ever seen play the game. Skill-wise, one-on-one, when Mario was on his game – even when Brad McCrimmon and I were partners – there were some shifts we came to the bench and we were just covered in snow from trying to swim and dive and just catch up with the guy. But it was great. Because it was such a terrific challenge. And you knew you were going to get embarrassed because he was such a great player. But it was worth the embarrassment.”
Strangest Game: “I guess in the NHL with the Flyers. We had a game against Quebec. We had a 6-1 lead with less than 10 minutes to go. We were so lucky to be able to tie the game. I mean, we dominated the game for 50 minutes. We didn’t get the puck in on one play, they went down and scored – no big deal, it was only 6-2. Well, that just opened up the floodgates. It ended up being 6-6. But we had no business even being tied that game, like I said, with the commanding 6-1 lead and dominating the game.”
Personality Qualities Most Admired: “Just integrity and honesty. For me, it’s very important. I was always taught to say please and thank you…it’s amazing to me how many young kids and some older people, too, come up and ask for an autograph. A lot of times they don’t say please or thank you. It just wouldn’t be allowed in my family.”
Click HERE to read more “Getting To Know” features.