This article is published in a partnership between Metro Times and DetroitSportsNation.com.
“I was walking in the hallway outside the locker room at Joe Louis Arena,” Yzerman said Wednesday. “He introduced himself to me and I was kind of in awe. I was 18 years old. He was very nice and very humble and down to earth. You’re talking, at the time, to the best player ever to play.
“It was a neat thing, at that time, for me.”
The next summer, Yzerman and Howe were at a charity event in Halifax, Nova Scotia, when Yzerman realized he’d under-packed.
“I’d forgotten my shin pads, and he let me wear his,” Yzerman said. “Then he left before I could give them back, so I carried them around for quite a while.
“That’s Gordie Howe — very humble, very down to earth. Just a really nice person.”
It’s an irony lost on no one who saw Howe play that he was the polar opposite off the ice — his elbows leveled many an opponent, but his personality enchanted.
“He’s admired and respected by everyone in the hockey world,” Yzerman said. “The players he played with, against; fans of every organization. He was a unique player. One, to play that long, and two, to be the combination of skill and power and grit. He was the ultimate player in that role, probably the best power forward every to play, before that term came up.”
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.