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Fanspeak: Gordie Howe voted greatest Red Wing in franchise history

Aug 27, 2014, 3:47 PM EDT

Gordie Howe Getty Images

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

Detroit Red Wings

1. Gordie Howe (1535)

2. Steve Yzerman (968)

3. Nicklas Lidstrom (578)

4. Pavel Datsyuk (194)

5. Sergei Fedorov (144)

6. Terry Sawchuk (115)

It’s not surprising that Yzerman and Lidstrom finished so high on this list. They were Hall of Fame players and leaders of the Red Wings during a golden era of Detroit hockey.

At the same time, having Howe top this list feels right. The Red Wings have a rich history and so many greats have played for them, but Howe is one of the best players of all-time and had a profound impact on Detroit.

He led Detroit to four Stanley Cup championships, won the Hart Trophy on six occasions, and also claimed the Art Ross Trophy six times. He made his debut in 1946 and didn’t play in his final game until 1980.

He also ranks third on the all-time points list, behind just Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky and no one has surpassed him yet in games played despite the fact that for most of his career, the NHL only had a 70-game season.

For the vast majority of that, Howe was a member of the Detroit Red Wings. His tenure as a player with them ended when he retired in 1971, but he eventually resumed his career when he joined the WHA’s Houston and participated in one final NHL season in 1979-80 with the Hartford Whalers after the NHL-WHA merger.

Howe remains the Red Wings’ all-time leader in games played, goals, and points.

  1. hockeydon10 - Aug 27, 2014 at 3:56 PM

  2. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 27, 2014 at 4:10 PM

    Stevie Y was awesome, but … Mr. Hockey.
    Honorable mention to Ted Lindsay, Sid Abel, Alex Delvecchio and Red Kelly. Some folks might not remember that before the redhead was a star center helping the Leafs win 4 Cups, he was an All-Star d-man helping the Wings win 4 Cups. And Syd Howe (no relation to Gordie), and Marcel Pronovost too.

    • polegojim - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:33 PM

      What beats a Gordie Howe Hat Trick? NOTHING!

  3. nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 27, 2014 at 4:26 PM

    OK, I admit this is likely to be raised at my sanity hearing, but… looking back through this month of “teams of the day” postings, I cannot find a Greatest Player poll result for the Winnipeg Jets. Was it deemed they are too new a team? Did disgruntled Atlanta fans hijack the poll? Ryan, are you there?

  4. terrier92 - Aug 27, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    Pretty accurate list however no Ted Lindsey is my only issue Great organization lots of deserving players

  5. luz56 - Aug 27, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    Can’t argue with that list at all…. Like some have said you could add to it…

  6. bush1069 - Aug 27, 2014 at 8:49 PM

    Greatest player in the history of hockey…

    • beergold - Aug 28, 2014 at 1:55 PM

      Yep….. even the Great One 99 calls Mr. Howe “The Greatest of all Time!”

  7. eastcoastwingette - Aug 27, 2014 at 10:25 PM

    I never got to watch Mr. Howe play live, and I’m not sure how much my Dad was able to watch him, but any Detroit fan from Day 1 is taught Gordie Howe is #1 and Stevie Yzerman is 1A.

    This takes nothing away from Ted Lindsay and it’s unbelievable he’s not even included on this list. In fact, it’s plain insulting. EVERYONE knows him. He’s the most prolific old-school Detroit Red Wing aside from Mr. Howe. That man is incredible and his contributions to the sport and to Red Wings hockey are unbelievable. If anything, he’s #2 and Lidstrom is 2A.

    • kellerjason0 - Aug 28, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      Agreed, no Ted Lindsay, no NHLPA. He was a revolutionary in the sport. Agreed all across the board with Howe #1, Stevie #1A, Lindsay #2, Lidstrom #2A. We are blessed to have so many great players in our history.

  8. blomfeld - Aug 27, 2014 at 11:40 PM


    In November of 1970, an 11 year old Blomfeld attended his ‘first ever’ NHL hockey game here in Vancouver between the Red Wings and the Canucks. The Wings won ‘handsomely’ by a margin of 7-3 and Mister Hockey was a ‘stand out’ in the game ! I believe friends that I will ‘never’ forget that night, God willing ! :)


  9. xtrememachine1 - Aug 28, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Between Howe and Yzerman, there really isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question. They both played in different time periods, but were equally important to the franchise while they were there. Goride led his team to multiple Cups, so did Yzerman. Gordie more scoring titles and MVP’s than Yzerman, but Stevie also played at the same time as the greatest scorers in the history of the league (Lemieux and Gretzky). How many Art Ross and Harts would Yzerman have won if they weren’t around?

    I think like someone mentiond above, its like 1A and 1B. Talent wise, they were about the same. Importance to the franchise, about the same. Accomplishments, about the same. When you’re around as long as the Wings have been, you’re going to have “problems” like this. I’m not even going to mention the former captain that won 7 Norris trophies, 4 Stanley Cups and an Olympic Gold medal and patrolled the Detroit blue line for 20 seasons.

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