With Gordie Howe scoring his 600th career goal this week, we take a look at some of the big man’s other milestone goals over the course of his career. We’ll also examine whether anyone has a chance to catch the guy the players call “Power.”
#100: Like number 600, Howe scored his 100th goal in Montreal. The date was February 17, 1951 and ironically, it took place on Rocket Richard Night. The Montreal goalkeeper that night was Gerry McNeil.
#200: Almost two years later to the day, February 15, 1953, Howe netted number 200 in Chicago against Al Rollins.
#300: On February 7, 1956, Big Gordie finally reached a milestone in front of the hometown fans in Detroit. Once again Chicago’s Al Rollins was the victim.
#325: This goal made Howe the second-highest goal-getter in NHL history passing the great Nels Stewart. It took place on December 15, 1956 in Detroit, again versus the Black Hawks. It goes without saying that Rollins was once again Howe’s unwilling foil.
#400: Number 400 came at the expense of the man generally acknowledged as the best goaltender of the 1950’s – Jacques Plante of Montreal. The date was December 4, 1958 and the place was the Montreal Forum. Unlike the show of admiration for his 600th marker, Montreal fans on this night would lustily boo the great right-winger.
#500: On March 14, 1962 it was Gump Worsley, then of the New York Rangers, whose turn it was to give up a big goal to Gordie.
#545: This was the goal that put Howe ahead of the man who was previously the NHL’s greatest goal scorer, Maurice Richard. Charlie Hodge was the man between the pipes for Montreal on November 10, 1963.
Can Anyone Catch Howe?
The quick and easy answer to this would be a resounding ‘NO’ if we’re only considering players in the game today. One has only to do the math – 600 goals, in 20 seasons. Who among today’s players could keep up a 30-goal pace for that many years? And, of course Howe is not finished, he could go on two or three more seasons if he avoids serious injury.
There are candidates, but do they really have the stuff to reach 600?
Le Gros Bill, big Jean Beliveau of Canadiens has 358 to date, but he’s already 34. With maybe five years left at best, the Montreal captain just won’t be able to score at a pace that would get him near whatever Howe’s record ends up being.
The Big M, Frank Mahovlich of the Maple Leafs has put up 231 goals in just over eight seasons. Just to get to 600 at his present clip, Mahovlich would have to play 13 more years, and by that time, he would be 41.
The obvious choice is the Golden Jet, Bobby Hull of Chicago. Like Mahovlich, Hull has played a little more than eight years, and he has 279 goals. He is 27 years old, 11 years younger than Howe and has averaged 33 goals per season to this point in his career. If Hull were to match Howe’s longevity, he would need to average 29 goals over the next 11 seasons. A pretty tall order for anyone. While Hull has been fairly durable during his career, Howe has missed only 50 games in 19 years due to injury.
Dick Beddoes of the Globe and Mail makes the point that Hull will most likely be injured more frequently than Howe has been as his career goes on. Hull has a much more mild-mannered disposition than Howe, who can be one of the meanest players in the league when the situation calls for it. Opposing players don’t take liberties with Howe, mainly out of fear of retribution. Hull just isn’t wired that way.
None of the younger players in the league seem to be on the way to catching the NHL’s greatest scorer at this point. But then again, Gordie finished his rookie season with just seven goals.
- Leafs have called up Brian Conacher from Rochester. He and fellow rookie Brit Selby are being bothered by groin injuries but should be ready for the Leafs next game on Wednesday in New York.
- Ron Ellis played without his helmet on Sunday night after discarding it late in Saturday’s game.
- The Boston Bruins will be signing Niagara Falls Flyers defenseman Gilles Marotte to a professional contract, likely within the next two weeks. GM Hap Emms just hasn’t been able to pick up any useful players from the other NHL teams, so he will turn to the juniors for help.
- Bobby Orr is still the leading scorer in the OHA Junior A Series with 15 goals and 26 assists for 41 points. Oshawa team-mate Danny O’Shea is second with 39 points.
- The Los Angeles Blades of the Western Hockey League have acquired goalie Ed Johnston from the Boston Bruins. The Blades returned backup goalie Doug Favell to Oklahoma City of the CPHL. The Bruins say Johnston is on loan to the Blades and subject to immediate recall.
- Bobby Rousseau of Montreal has opened a five-point lead over Chicago’s Bobby Hull in the NHL scoring race. Rousseau has 11 goals and 15 assists for 26 points.
- Chicago Black Hawks goalies Glenn Hall and Dave Dryden lead the Vezina Trophy race with a 2.38 average.
- Paul Andrea of Minnesota Rangers continues to lead the CPHL scoring race with 23 points, four more than Oklahoma City’s Skip Krake.
Retired police detective, involved in hockey at all levels for over 50 years. Member of Society for International Hockey Research and presently a video analyst for the leader in advanced hockey analytics (we work exclusively for 2 NHL clubs, and provide advice on an ad hoc basis to many other clients). Currently the Assistant General Manager for the Pelham Pirates of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Previously owned the Faceoff computer hockey simulation and also provided all player ratings for the EA Sports series of NHL computer games from the late 90’s into the mid 2000’s.