DETROIT >> Things have once again taken a turn for the worse for hockey legend Gordie Howe.
According to a source close to the family, Howe suffered a major stroke Monday. The source didn’t know if he was in ICU.
Howe, who’s known as “Mr. Hockey”, is 86 and has been living with his daughter, Cathy, in Lubbock, Texas.
On Sunday, his son Mark said that his father’s condition had improved despite suffering a mini stroke on Saturday.
Mark is traveling along with other family members, including brothers Marty and Murray to be by their father’s side.
“A real good man, real fun to be around, loved hockey, he’s called Mr. Hockey for a reason,” Wings coach Mike Babcock said recently.
Howe suffered a significant stroke on Oct. 26, which impaired his speech and caused him to lose functionality of the right side of his body.
Howe has been suffering from dementia for several years and recently underwent spinal stenosis surgery.
“He’s done so much for hockey and for our club,” Henrik Zetterberg said recently. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to him and his family.”
“He’s been fantastic,” Babcock said. “I grew up in Saskatoon, his nephew, Bruce Clark, and I played on the same team, played at Gordie Howe Bowl and I’ve been a fan forever. Then to get a chance to coach the Red Wings and have him in my office on a regular basis was special to say the least. He would let you know if he didn’t like the way the team played.”
Howe, who spent the first 25 seasons of his career with the Wings, still holds franchise records for games played (1,687), goals (786), points (1,809), power-play goals (211) and game-winning goals (121).
“He was Mr., Hockey, played for the Wings many, many years, won four Cups,” Zetterberg said. “As soon as you get drafted by Detroit that’s probably the first player that you knew of.”
Howe is the NHL’s all-time leader in games played (1,767) and ranks second in goals (801), third in points (1,850) and ninth in assists (1,049).
“I don’t know if I exactly remember the first meeting, just like Ted Lindsay, they’re part of the locker room almost,” Niklas Kronwall said. “You can’t say enough good things about him.
“Just an amazing person, the way he handles himself, carries himself,” Kronwall continued. “I think that’s something that trickles down for us younger guys, that’s something we look up to and we want to be like that as well, just how he handles himself in all situations. He’s definitely a role model for many, many people.”
Howe finished his career with the Hartford Whalers at age 52.
He made the last of his 23 NHL All-Star Game appearances that season at Joe Louis Arena.
“He’s a really, really good person,” Kronwall said. “A guy you just feel good to be around. Not that I’ve been around him many times but the times you are I definitely feel it, it’s a special family.”
He got to play alongside his sons, Mark and Marty, in the World Hockey Association for six seasons where he totaled 30 goals four times and reached 100 points at least twice.
“Just a gentleman obviously, loved hockey, loved his family,” Babcock said. “The things that stand out for me for sure is his love for the game and his passion for the game, but his love for his family, he’s got a very close, tight-knit family, and it’s always been about that. He’s part of the Red Wings’ family, he’s special, special man.”
Howe’s wife of 55 years, Colleen – known as “Mrs. Hockey” – died in 2009 after a lengthy battle with Pick’s Disease, an incurable neurological condition that causes dementia.