The Chilliwack Chiefs will retire number 9 as a tribute to Gordie Howe, who passed away last week at the age of 88.
Howe, known to everyone as ‘Mr. Hockey’ played 26 seasons in the National Hockey League and six seasons in the World Hockey Association.
He retired after the 1979-80 season at the age of 52. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 and into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1975.
In 1998 The Hockey News named Howe the third best player of all time, behind only Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr.
Both Gretzky and Orr have said it was Howe who deserved the number one spot.
“Gordie Howe symbolized class,” said Chiefs president Glen Ringdal. “We are proud to permanently recognize and honour his life and accomplishments by retiring the number 9 from our team.”
Returning forward Jesse Lansdell, who wore number 9 last season has no problem moving to a different number.
“It was an honor being able to wear his number,” he said. “It’s great to see Mr. Howe get the respect he deserves.”
Number 9 is the first to be retired by the Chiefs and head coach Jason Tatarnic says the decision was an easy one.
“Gordie Howe will always be remembered as Mr. Hockey and we want our fans and players to remember and honour the greatest ambassador of our game on and off the ice,” the coach said. “Our goal as an organization is to develop good people. We preach to our players all the time that they will be a person longer than they will be a hockey player and with that in mind it’s important to become a good person and we feel there is no better example of this than Gordie Howe.”
“We are honoured and privileged to retire number 9.”
See chilliwackchiefs.net for more.