By Mike Halford, NBC Sports
(NBC Sports) - One of the greatest and most iconic players in hockey history has died.
Gordie Howe, who played more games than anybody in NHL history, passed away on Friday morning at the age of 88, per the Detroit Free Press. His passing comes nearly two years after recovering from a serious stroke.
In March, Howe celebrated his 88th birthday at Joe Louis Arena with the Red Wings — the organization he spent 25 of his 26 NHL seasons with.
Born in Floral, Saskatchewan in 1928, Howe made his NHL debut in 1946 at the age of 18. He went on to become one of the most dominant players of his era, capturing four Stanley Cups, six Hart Trophies as league MVP and another six Art Ross trophies as the league’s top scorer.
Howe retired in 1971, but came out of retirement to play alongside sons Marty and Mark, and spent his final NHL campaign in Hartford during the 1979-80 campaign, at the age of 51. In doing so, Howe became the oldest player to ever play in an NHL contest, a record that remains unbroken.
In the aftermath of his playing days, Howe was celebrated across the league and beyond. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and his No. 9 was retired by the Red Wings — and in 2011, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Last year, it was announced that a long-planned bridge between Detroit and Windsor would be named after him.
“This is joining two countries, two jurisdictions, two communities in what is a very strong and important relationship,”then-Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, per the Detroit News. “And I don’t think we could think of a better person who symbolizes that relationship better than Gordie Howe.”