There’s something to be said about the hockey community. It’s a tight knit community of former players, media members and various others. Any given press box is it’s own ecosystem and there are a lot of people who spend time traveling as professional scouts. One of these people just happens to be the hockey hall of fame inductee, the Detroit Red Wings director of professional scouting and one of the most helpful people I’ve ever run across.
Of course, I’m talking about Mark Howe, the son of the legendary Gordie Howe.
Gordie was part of the generation that changed hockey forever. He finished his career with 1850 points in 1767 NHL games and 508 points in 419 WHA games.
Mark Howe grew up in a hockey family and it’s been the only thing he’s ever known. His professional career was not as long as his fathers, but he retired with 742 points in 929 NHL games and 504 points in 426 WHA games. And although he might be finished playing, Howe isn’t out of the game.
Spending An Hour With Mark Howe
I spent some time talking with “Howie” at the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings and I was blown away by what he had to say. If you listen to the best hockey players in the world, you can learn a lot about the game. After spending some time with Mark, he completely changed how I watched the game.
Often times it’s easy for you to get caught up watching the “flow” of the game, watching them skate back and forth and, usually, trading shots. However, when you stop watching the “flow” and start looking at the other factors, you see so much more. It’s watching things like how the head coach is reacting throughout the game, the players’ body language on the bench and of course, individual player performance.
There’s a lot Howe had to share, but there’s something even more important than the few lessons he explicitly taught me.
In general, professional athletes have to maintain a certain image, they watch what they say and ensure no bad publicity comes to their organizations. In quite a few professional sports, these players maintain an image because they have to, and their actions away from the team show their true character, but not people involved with hockey.
When you see someone on television, in an interview or giving a press conference, they are who you think they are. They don’t put up a false facade to appease people, away from the rink and the cameras they’re some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
There’s a humility to hockey that isn’t present in a lot of other sports and to quote a personal friend of mine Bruce “Scoop” Cooper.
There’s something about the game of hockey that keeps people humble because on any given night the biggest star can be invisible and a fourth line player can dominate a game.
That’s exactly what happens inside the world of hockey. Hall of fame players don’t look or talk down to anyone, this is missing from almost every other sport.