Hockey icon Gordie Howe is resting comfortably at his daughter’s home in Texas after suffering a major stroke Sunday, but the 86-year-old, famously known as “Mr. Hockey”, has lost significant function on the right side of his body and is having difficulty speaking.
Dr. Murray Howe, one of three of Gordie Howe’s sons, told the Detroit News Tuesday his father fell ill early Sunday morning and is being cared for by Gordie’s daughter Cathleen and her husband Bob at their home in Lubbock, Texas.
“He's unable to stand without help,” Murray Howe said of Gordie. “He's able to speak, but (it’s) very, very difficult to speak. He knows who he is. He knows the people around him. But it is very difficult for him to get up and walk around. So he is pretty much confined to his bed right now.”
Gordie Howe has been in failing health in recent years as he deals with the effects of dementia and spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine’s canal). This past summer, he underwent back surgery to deal with the latter issue and had been responding positively, walking as much as a mile per day.
Howe is universally regarded as one of the greatest players in hockey history and an incredible ambassador for the sport. The Hockey Hall-of-Famer won four Stanley Cups, six Hart Trophies as the NHL's MVP and six Art Ross Trophies as the league's top scorer in 25 years with the Detroit Red Wings (1946-71). He was instrumental in the birth of the World Hockey Association, spending four years with the Houston Aeros – and playing on the same roster as his sons Mark and Marty Howe – before joining the New England/Hartford Whalers for the final three seasons of his professional career. In his last NHL season, Howe scored 15 goals and 41 points in 80 games for Hartford before retiring in 1980 – at age 52. When The Hockey News assembled a panel of league experts in 1998 to rank the 100 best NHL players of all time, Howe ranked No. 3, behind only fellow legends Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr.