Detroit — The Red Wings’ organization is what it is today largely because of what Gordie Howe did.

The hockey legend, who tied Friday morning at age 88, was a unique person and player, according to owner Mike Ilitch.

“Today is a sad day for the Detroit Red Wings and the entire hockey world as together we mourn the loss of one of the greatest hockey players of all time,” said Ilitch, in a statement released by the Red Wings. “The Red Wings organization and the National Hockey League would not be what they are today without Gordie Howe. There is no nickname more fitting for him than ‘Mr. Hockey.’

“He embodied on and off the ice what it meant to be both a Red Wing and a Detroiter. He was tough, skilled, and consistently earned success at the highest level. His achievements are numerous and his accomplishments immeasurable. It is truly a blessing to have had him both in our organization and our city for so many years. He will be deeply missed.”

Howe was the longest-tenured player in Red Wings’ history. His playing career spanned five decades, Howe playing in 2,421 games until the age of 52.

Howe played his minor hockey in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and was signed to his first professional contract with the Red Wings prior to the 1945-46 season.

Howe spent one season with the USHL’s Omaha Knights before joining the Red Wings for the 1946-47 season.

Upon Howe’s arrival, the Red Wings went on to win four Stanley Cups in the 1950s (1950, 1952, 1954, 1955), while Howe led the NHL in scoring four consecutive seasons beginning in 1950-51.

For the next 20 seasons, Howe would finish in the top-five in scoring.

Howe was the Hart Trophy winner, as the NHL’s most valuable player, six times (1952, 1953, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1963) and NHL First All-Star team selection 12 times (nine times Second Team).

“Gordie Howe was an incredible ambassador for the game of hockey,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He was as fierce and competitive as they come but away from the rink he was truly engaging and personable and always enjoyed his interaction with the fans.

“Gordie set the standard for this franchise during the Original Six era, winning four Stanley Cups, capturing numerous awards and setting an abundance of league records. We will miss Mr. Hockey, who was the greatest Red Wing of all time. Our deepest sympathies go out to Mark, Marty, Murray, Cathy and the rest of the Howe family during this difficult time.”

Howe is survived by his four children Marty, Mark, Cathy and Murray, and nine grandchildren.

Twitter: @tkulfan