Gordie Who?

The latest news over the weekend about Gordie Howe is encouraging as he battles back from a stroke. So encouraging, in fact, that his family is hoping he’ll be healthy enough to attend an event with Wayne Gretzky in Saskatoon in February.

A lot has already been, and will continue to be, written and said about Howe, but here’s a story you may not know. The history of hockey – certainly the history of hockey in Detroit – would have been very different if this story had come to pass.

Some of you are already thinking that this is going to be the story of how Howe could have been with the New York Rangers. And yes, he attended a tryout camp with the Rangers as a 15-year-old in 1943. But this is the story of how Gordie Howe might have ended up with the Boston Bruins.

Howe Trade

According to Harold Kaese, writing in the Boston Globe on December 27, 1956, Art Ross tried to get Jack Adams to throw in Howe to sweeten a deal the two were working on in the summer of 1946. If Kaese was recalling all this correctly – which is certainly up for debate! – Howe would have just completed his one and only minor league season with the Omaha Knights of the USHL.

Art Ross was trying to make a deal with the Detroit Red Wings some 10 years ago. Like a good trader, he was hoping to get the edge over Jack Adams. And like a good kidder, he was determined to get a rise out of the irritable Adams even though he did not get the edge.

“I think you ought to throw in a little extra, just to make it more even,” suggested Ross.

“Yeah? What extra?” snapped Adams.

“Well, how about that big dumb kid you have for right wing?” asked Ross. “I can’t remember his name. Powell. Howell. Something like that.”

“Not Howell. Howe!” shouted Adams. “Why you–you–you…”

Kaese writes that when the trade was made, “Detroit, I think, got Roy Conacher. The Bruins got Joe Carveth.[NOTE: that trade certainly did take place during the summer of 1946] But they did not get Gordon Howe.”

Wishing all the best to Mr. Hockey … and to everyone during this Holiday season.

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