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Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Work Horse On Ice

Illustration for article titled Work Horse On Ice

Dig this day-in-the-life story about Gordie Howe from 1959. Written by the great W.C. Heinz for the Saturday Evening Post:

Skating onto the ice on this night, however, he had not scored in six games, although he had set up five goals with assists. For most of this game it appeared that he would be shut out again, for although the Red Wings went ahead, 1 to 0, in the first period, and led, 3 to 1, at the end of the second, his chances were few and marked by frustration.

In the third minute of the first period he rode Ed Shack, the Ranger rookie wing, off the puck in front of the New York net, but in doing so he overskated it. In the twelfth minute he knocked a high puck down just inside the Ranger blue line, stick-handled it around John Hanna, the Ranger defense man, shifted Gump Worsley, the Ranger goalie, with a fake to the right and then hit the other post with his shot.

"You have to accept those things," he said later. "A couple of years ago I had twenty-two posts by Christmas, and I think I still led the league in goals that year."

In the second minute of the second period his shot off Worsley's pads hit the post again. Six minutes later he stole the puck from Shack just inside the blue line, laid a pass on Ullman's stick, took the return fifteen feet out and was tripped by Bill Gadsby.

On the Red Wing power play he took a pass off the boards from Delvecchio, slapped a high shot from the side that Worsley picked out of the air as it was about to go into the upper left corner. At 19:25 of the period Worsley saved on him again, when the puck hit his right arm.

Through all of this, however, Howe was, as he always is, the workhorse of the Red Wings. He plays between thirty-five and forty minutes of every game, and is on the ice not only with his own line but every time the Red Wings, because of penalties, have a one-man advantage or are one man short. He brings to hockey the same long-striding, seemingly effortless grace that Joe DiMaggio brought to baseball, but each time he came off the ice the sweat was running off his nose and down his cheeks and settling in the creases in his neck.

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