Mark Howe

Mark Steven Howe (born May 28, 1955) is a retired American professional ice hockey left winger and later defenseman who played sixteen seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) and six seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA). He is currently serving the Director of Pro Scouting for the Detroit Red Wings.[1]

Mark Howe
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2011
Howe at the 2012 NHL Winter Classic
Born (1955-05-28) May 28, 1955
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Left Wing (1973–79)
Defense (1979–95)
Shot Left
Played for WHA
 Houston Aeros
 New England Whalers
 Hartford Whalers
 Philadelphia Flyers
 Detroit Red Wings
National team  United States and
NHL Draft 25th overall, 1974
Boston Bruins
Playing career 19731995

He is the son of Gordie and Colleen Howe, younger brother of Marty Howe, and nephew of Vic Howe. Despite the enormous shadow cast by his father and splitting time between two leagues, Howe shone as one of the best two-way NHL defensemen of the 1980s, being a three-time runner-up for the Norris Trophy and making the Stanley Cup finals three times as a player. He is a member of both the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and the Hockey Hall of Fame in to which he was inducted in 2011.[2] The Howe family received the Wayne Gretzky International Award in 2000, for major contributions to the growth and advancement of hockey in the United States.[3]

Amateur career

As a youth, Howe played in the 1965 and 1966 Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournaments along with his brother Marty, on the Detroit Roostertail minor ice hockey team.[4] Howe played junior hockey for the Detroit Jr. Red Wings. As a 15-year-old, he led his Red Wings to the US Junior Championship in 1971. In 1972, the United States earned a Silver Medal at the 1972 Olympics in Sapporo, Japan with 16-year-old Howe as one of the stars, the youngest hockey player to win an Olympic medal.[5] Howe eventually ended his junior hockey career playing for the Toronto Marlboros of the OHL, winning a Memorial Cup MVP in the process.

Professional career

In 1973, he decided to play in the WHA alongside his brother, Marty and his father Gordie. Led by the Howes, the Houston Aeros won the 1974 and 1975 Avco Cups, awarded to the league champions of the WHA. Mark, playing left wing, was awarded the Lou Kaplan Trophy as Rookie of the Year and earned 2nd team All-Star status. Having dual citizenship, he represented his father's country in the 1974 Summit Series, where he was one of Team Canada's leading scorers.

Even though he had played a complete season in the WHA, the Boston Bruins proceeded to select Mark anyway with their second-round pick in the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft. He was the first active WHA player to be drafted by an NHL team, and the first of three selected in the 1974 draft, the other two being his brother Marty, selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round, and Tom Edur of the Cleveland Crusaders, who was also selected by Boston. All three players opted to remain with their WHA teams after the draft.

By the 1976–77 season, Howe was a full-time defenseman. Before the 1977–78 season, the Howes moved their family act to Hartford, Connecticut to play for the New England Whalers.[6]

When the NHL and WHA merged in 1979, one of the four WHA teams left standing were the Whalers. They changed their name to the Hartford Whalers. In the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft, the Bruins attempted to reclaim Mark Howe; however, the Whalers used a priority selection to retain his rights. Due to a gentlemen's agreement between the Whalers and the Red Wings, Detroit opted not to exercise their right to reclaim Gordie Howe; the Wings also opted not to reclaim Marty, whose rights they had previously acquired from Montreal. As a result, Mark, his father and his brother were able to play one more season together with the Whalers, this time in the NHL. The 1980–81 season proved to be one of Howe's best. Howe was a mid-season All-Star, and in the fall, he appeared for the US national team at the 1981 Canada Cup tournament.

Howe was involved in one of the more memorable injuries in NHL history. On December 27, 1980, he slid into the pointed metal center of the net and cut a five-inch gash in his rectal area.[7][8] He was essentially impaled in an injury that nearly ended his career. Following a lawsuit by Howe, the NHL changed the design of its nets so that there would no longer be a center portion that jutted up toward the goal line.[9] He lost 21 pounds[10] and his stamina suffered after requiring liquid diet to avoid intestinal infections. After Whalers management lost faith in Howe, he requested a trade,[9][10] and was moved in a four player deal that also involved draft picks, to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The backbone of one of the NHL's best defensive teams of the mid-1980s, he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy three times in 1982–83, 1985–86 and 1986–87 season. His Philadelphia team, backstopped by Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Pelle Lindbergh, finished the 1984–85 season with most points and earned a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Edmonton Oilers dynasty, which featured stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Mark Messier.

Howe had his best season during the 1985–86 season where he posted some of the best numbers ever by an NHL defenseman. He scored 24 goals, added 58 assists for 82 total points. He led the NHL with a remarkable +85. He also added 7 shorthanded goals while being the lifeline out of the Flyers defensive zone with his outstanding skating and passing ability. Unfortunately for Howe, Edmonton's Paul Coffey had perhaps one of the best seasons by a defenseman in NHL history, breaking Bobby Orr's single-season records for goals and tallying 138 points. Howe, for the second time, finished runner-up in Norris Trophy voting.

The 1986–87 season brought great success to both Howe and his Philadelphia Flyers teammates. The Flyers, for the third consecutive season, led the Prince of Wales Conference in points. Led by Howe and defense partner Brad McCrimmon, rookie netminder Ron Hextall, and a line featuring Brian Propp, Rick Tocchet and Pelle Eklund, the injury-riddled Flyers took the vaunted Edmonton Oilers to 7 games in the NHL Finals before succumbing 3–1 in the finale.

Howe, having struggled with both knee and back injuries, became a part-time player virtually the rest of his career. The decline in his games played coincided with the Flyers decline in play overall. It was no mystery to anyone watching the Flyers on a regular basis from the years 1988–91 why the team struggled. When Howe was in the lineup, the Flyers looked like a playoff team. Without him, they looked disorganized in their own end.

After the 1991–92 season, the Flyers granted Howe free agency so he could win the, so far elusive, Stanley Cup. He signed with the Detroit Red Wings, the team with which his dad had starred. The signing was a popular one in Detroit, as Mark was "returning home" to help build the Wings into a consistent playoff contender. He became a steadying influence on Detroit's young corps of defensemen, most notably Nicklas Lidström. He would have one more appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, but his Red Wings were swept in 1995 by the New Jersey Devils.

Post-playing career

Upon his retirement as a player following the 1994–95 season Howe remained in the Detroit organization working in the hockey operations department first as a video coach and then as a pro scout, earning Stanley Cup rings when the Wings captured championships in 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008. Upon his retirement, Howe was the last active Houston Aeros or New England Whalers player in the NHL, as well as the last active member of Canada's 1974 Summit Series team. He currently serves the club as its Director of Pro Scouting being based just outside Philadelphia in Jackson, NJ, from which he primarily covers NHL and AHL teams located in the eastern United States.[11][12] His older son, Travis, also works in the hockey development and coaching field as co-founder and head coach of the Selects Hockey player development program based in Bloomfield, Michigan.[13]

Howe was elected to Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame in 2001 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. In June 2011, it was announced that Howe had been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame to which he was inducted on November 14, 2011 in the players category.;[14] he and his father Gordie were the second father-son combination in hockey history to be named to the Hall of Fame, behind Brett and Bobby Hull.

On March 6, 2012, the Philadelphia Flyers retired Mark Howe's #2 jersey in an on ice ceremony at the Wells Fargo Center prior to a game with the Detroit Red Wings. Howe's number became only the fifth number to be retired by the Flyers in the club's then 44-season history following those of Bernie Parent (1), Bobby Clarke (16), Bill Barber (7) and the late Barry Ashbee (4).[15] He was also the first to be so honored by the club since Barber's jersey was retired on October 11, 1990. With the retirement of Mark Howe's number 2 by the Flyers, Mark and Gordie Howe became only the second father-and-son combinations (Brett and Bobby Hull being the other) to have their numbers retired by NHL franchises. Howe also has won over 26 international awards.

Awards and achievements

NHL Records

  • Most career short-handed goals by a defenceman: (28)
  • Highest Plus/Minus in a season by a U.S. born defenceman: (+87) in 1985-86
  • Highest Plus/Minus career by a U.S. born defenceman: (+400)
  • Highest Plus/Minus career in playoffs by a U.S. born defenceman: (+54)
  • Most assists by a rookie U.S. born defenceman in a season: (56)
  • Most points by a rookie U.S. born defenceman in a season: (80)
  • Most Short-handed goals in a season by a U.S. born defenceman: (7) in 1985-86

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1969–70Detroit OlympiaMNHL4030396921
1970–71Detroit Jr. Red WingsSOJHL443770107
1970–71Detroit Jr. Red WingsCen-Cup10519240
1971–72Detroit Jr. Red WingsSOJHL95914
1972–73Toronto MarlborosOHA-Jr.60386610427
1972–73Toronto MarlborosM-Cup34486
1973–74Houston AerosWHA763841792014910194
1974–75Houston AerosWHA7436407630131012220
1975–76Houston AerosWHA7239377638176101618
1976–77Houston AerosWHA572352754611410142
1977–78New England WhalersWHA703061913214871518
1978–79New England WhalersWHA7742651073264266
1979–80Hartford WhalersNHL742456802031232
1980–81Hartford WhalersNHL6319466554
1981–82Hartford WhalersNHL768455318
1982–83Philadelphia FlyersNHL762047671830224
1983–84Philadelphia FlyersNHL711934534430002
1984–85Philadelphia FlyersNHL73183957311938116
1985–86Philadelphia FlyersNHL772458823650440
1986–87Philadelphia FlyersNHL691543583726210124
1987–88Philadelphia FlyersNHL751943626273694
1988–89Philadelphia FlyersNHL529293845190151510
1989–90Philadelphia FlyersNHL407212824
1990–91Philadelphia FlyersNHL19010108
1991–92Philadelphia FlyersNHL427182518
1992–93Detroit Red WingsNHL60331342271342
1993–94Detroit Red WingsNHL4442024860110
1994–95Detroit Red WingsNHL181561030000
NHL totals 929 197 545 742 455 101 10 51 61 34
WHA totals 426 208 296 504 198 75 41 51 92 48


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1972 United States OG 6 0 0 0 0
1974 Canada Summit-74 7 2 4 6 4
1981 United States CC 6 0 4 4 2
Senior totals 19 2 8 10 6

See also


  1. "Mark Howe – Director of Pro Scouting". Detroit Red Wings. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  2. "Belfour, Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, Howe elected to Hall of Fame". The Sports Network. June 28, 2011. Retrieved June 11, 2012.
  3. "Wayne Gretzky International Award". U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
  4. "Pee-Wee players who have reached NHL or WHA" (PDF). Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament. 2018. Retrieved January 4, 2019.
  5. Bill Fleischman (February 2, 2008). "Fleischman: Howe is Worthy of the Hall". Philadelphia Flyers. Retrieved June 26, 2011.
  6. "Whalers Outduel NHL to Sign Hockey's Famed Howe Family". Hartford Courant. May 24, 1977. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  7. "Hartford Whalers defenseman Mark Howe remained in stable condition..." United Press International. December 30, 1980. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  8. Malinowski, Mark (May 10, 2009). "Mark Howe". The Hockey News. The Hockey News. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  9. Custance, Craig (November 11, 2011). "Custance: Mark Howe wasn't just Gordie's son, he is Hall-worthy in his own right". ESPN. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  10. "Flyers Heroes of the Past: Mark Howe (Part 1)". National Hockey League. January 28, 2007. Retrieved December 21, 2017.
  11. 2011–2012 Detroit Red Wings Media Guide, p. 18
  12. Berlet, Bruce "Former Whaler Mark Howe Joins Father Gordie in Hockey Hall of Fame" June 28, 2011 Whaler Nation
  13. Selects Hockey coaching staff
  14. Belfour, Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, Howe elected to Hall of Fame
  15. Sources: Flyers to retire Howe's jersey
  16. "NHL Career Leaders and Records for Short-Handed Goals". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved March 16, 2016. (The NHL does not publish "official" records for career short handed goals for either all players or by position.)
  17. Mark Howe Short Handed NHL Goals (Of his 929 regular season NHL games, Howe played about four at LW with Hartford, and about 10 at RW with Philadelphia during his NHL career.)
Preceded by
Pelle Lindbergh
Winner of the Bobby Clarke Trophy
Succeeded by
Ron Hextall
Preceded by
Wayne Gretzky
Winner of the NHL Plus/Minus Award
Succeeded by
Wayne Gretzky
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