It only took a couple decades, but earlier this week, Mark Howe was finally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Most people under the age of 30 know him as Gordie Howe’s son and probably remember one of those famous pictures where he’s with Gordie and brother Marty in the WHA. But as people are learning this week, the man was a pretty good hockey player in his own right—no matter what the name on the back of his jersey read.
If you haven’t seen the speech in its entirety, you might want to take a few minutes and check this out. Usually Hall of Fame speeches are as exciting as a Flyers/Lightning game, but Howe’s was certainly worth watching. We’ll get to that part in a minute:
What made the speech so moving for people is the talk of family in his development. Sure, just about every single person that has earned an honor has thanked their parents and siblings—and Howe was no different. The difference here was there was a sense that we know the players in his individual story.
We remember the visual of “his best friend” (and brother) playing with him in Houston and Hartford. Anyone who has ever played any sport and has a sister can close their eyes and remember when their sister was dragged to their games. Anyone who has a brother can relate to a sibling that goes in another direction and blazes his own trail. Anyone who has kids understands the moment when he says, “I know how you’re feeling because I was there.”
We can relate—because these aren’t just Mark’s stories—they are OUR stories.
Then there’s Gordie. The moment that captured most of the sound bytes and highlight reels (err, YouTube), was when the new member of the Hockey Hall of Fame thanked the old member of the Hall of Fame. But he didn’t thank him for the hockey lessons, he thanked him for the father and husband he has been. He thanked him not for his role in the hockey community, but thanked him for his role in their family.
We may think we know Gordie—but we certainly know family and fathers. It was just that the familiar faces made it a little more palatable this time.