Gordie Howe entered the National Hockey League in 1946 at the age of eighteen. Entering the NHL at 18 has been common among many young professional hockey players throughout the decades, but what Howe did in his career was anything but common. Howe played in over 2,400 games, scored over 1,000 goals and over 1,500 assists during his career. He was on four Stanley Cup Champion teams with the Detroit Red Wings.
When Howe was a rookie, the NHL had six teams. When Howe retired for the first time in 1971, the National Hockey League doubled. Clarence Campbell, the NHL president in 1971, said, "Gordie, when you entered into the league, hockey was a Canadian sport." As you exit, you have made it a North American sport! ". One of Howe's biggest fans was Wayne Gretzky, who played from 1979 to 1999. Gretzky is also one of the greatest hockey players of all time. Howe and Gretzky inspired thousands of players around the world. Howe was a pioneer with hockey expansion because professional hockey is now played on other continents, such as Europe. Howe loved hockey so much that he played over three decades and his passion for the game flourished around the world.
1. Howe played professional hockey for 32 years
Howe's hockey career spanned from 1946 to 1980. Howe did not play for two seasons after his first retirement in 1971. For six of the seasons, Howe played in the World Hockey Association, another professional hockey league, which Wayne Gretzky also played. The WHA ended in 1979.
Many of your careers will last many decades. Will you evoke the same passion in your career as Howe did? Howe did not have to come back to play hockey in 1973 at the age of 45, but he did for his love of the game. Howe defines what it's like to have passion for one's career.
2. In the 1979-80 season, Howe, at age 52, played all 80 games and was leading scorer for most of the season.
For most of you, working many days and weeks in a row may seem tiresome. Howe played one of the most physically-rigorous sports and played in every game in his last season at age 52. He retired after the 1979-80 season. Considering that many professional hockey players retire in their thirties, Howe provided that age is only a number and not a state of mind. How many of you think that you are too old to do something? Gordie Howe did not make any excuses.
3. Howe was a very versatile player
Howe played positions of center, right-wing and defense and could shoot right or left-handed. He was a physically tough player and was the top scorer of all time until Wayne Gretzky broke his record. Howe's versatility made him the player that he was.
Many of you have skills, but are there other skills that you could obtain on the job or by taking a class that would make you even more valuable and resourceful in the work?
Howe epitomized versatility and the ability to multi-task before the term "multi-tasking" was even coined.
Do you love what you do for a living? You do not have to be one of the greatest hockey players of all time to love your career.
Howe greatly influenced Wayne Gretzky, who is also one of the greatest hockey players of all time. Who are some of the people that you have greatly influenced? Although it may not be particularly that you will greatly influence Hall of Fame hockey players, you will influence people nonetheless. You never know if you will greatly influence a great author who writes a terrific novel, the scientist who cures cancer, or a teacher, who may go on to inspire other important people. You never know what you will inspire.