Today in Hockey History: Hartford Whalers Gordie Howe Finally Retires

Gordie Howe
HARTFORD, CT - 1980: Gordie Howe #9 of the Hartford Whalers skates on the ice during an exhibition game circa 1980 at the Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut. (Photo by B Bennett/Getty Images)

During the NHL’s hiatus, we at the Last Word on Hockey are going to look back at each date’s historical significance to the game. We’ll remember the moments that shaped the sport of hockey that happened on this day. Here’s our look at this date in hockey history for June 4th, featuring Gordie Howe.

Today in Hockey History

Gordie Howe Retires for Final Time From NHL

1980: The 52-year-old Hartford Whalers forward hangs up the skates for the final time in the NHL. He originally retired after the 1970-71 season with the Detroit Red Wings, but that only lasted for two years. Howe became teammates with his sons Mark Howe and Marty Howe with the Houston Aeros of the WHA. The Howe trio moved to the New England Whalers in 1977, which moves to the NHL in 1979.

Gordie plays 80 games and has 15 goals and 41 points in his return to the NHL. The elder Howe adds a goal in three assists as Hartford loses to the Montreal Canadiens in the Preliminary Round.

Howe retires as the NHL’s all-time leader in games played (1,767), goals (801), assists (1,049), and points (1,850). Wayne Gretzky breaks Howe’s three scoring records, but his games-played mark still stands. Howe would skate one shift with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL in 1997.

Other Notable Events

1996: Patrick Roy passes Billy Smith to become the all-time leader in playoff games played by a goalie. Roy appears in his 133rd post-season game as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Florida Panthers, 3-1, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

1998: The Washington Capitals reach their first Stanley Cup Final since entering the league in 1974. Joe Juneau scores 6:24 into overtime as the Caps beat the Buffalo Sabres, 3-2, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final.

1999: Mike Keane scores twice in a 4:05 span as the Dallas Stars win, 4-1, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. Ed Belfour makes 18 saves as the Stars beat the Avalanche.

2008: Nicklas Lidstrom is the first European-born captain to hoist the Stanley Cup. Lidstrom and the Red Wings beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Henrik Zetterberg wins the Conn Smythe and Chris Chelios becomes the oldest player to win the Stanley Cup at 46.

2011: Alexandre Burrows scores 11 seconds into overtime in the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 Game 2 win over the Boston Bruins. Burrows matches the second-fastest overtime goal in Stanley Cup Playoff history.

2014: Justin Williams scores 4:36 into OT as the Los Angeles Kings win Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. It’s Williams’ eighth goal of the post-season in the 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.

2016: Joonas Donskoi nets the winner 12:18 into overtime as the San Jose Sharks win their first Stanley Cup Final game in team history. Donskoi’s winner leads San Jose over Pittsburgh, 3-2, in Game 3.

2018: Washington is one game away from its first Stanley Cup with a 6-2 Game 4 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Evgeny Kuznetsov gets four assists for the Capitals in the victory.

Happy Birthday to You

1960: Laurie Boschman

1966: Nick Kypreos

1972: Derian Hatcher

1976: Wayne Primeau

1980: Francois Beauchemin

1984: Ian White

1993: Jonathan Huberdeau

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