Howe's legacy to be celebrated during Wings-Jets game

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — Gordie Howe's impact continues to resonate with the Red Wings and the hockey community.

The Red Wings celebrated the legacy of Howe, who passed away in June at the age of 88.

Howe’s children Mark (Red Wings director of pro scouting), Marty, Murray and Cathy, were to participate in a ceremonial puck drop prior to Friday’s game against Winnipeg.

Videos of Howe’s Hall of Fame career were going to played throughout the evening.

“The impact he’s had on hockey has been well documented,” coach Jeff Blashill said. “I don’t know if you can celebrate that enough — and certainly within this organization.

“We’re lucky that we have a history of success that’s rivaled by very few in the NHL and the reason for that is the players that have come before (us).

“And he’s the biggest of that group.”

Thousands of fans made their way through Joe Louis Arena during a public visitation in June, upon Howe’s death.

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The outpouring of emotion toward Howe, and the grace and strength of his family during that period impressed Blashill.

“It was unbelievable, the way the Howe family handled themselves with unbelievable dignity and class, which doesn’t surprise me at all,” Blashill said. “But what a tough situation to be in, to grieve publicly and privately at the same time, it was awesome to watch.

“Then the number of people that were there. It just shows the impact that he had in his life.”

Howe’s relationship with his fans came into focus during that time in June.

“Times change for sure but it just speaks to the person and personality he had,” Blashill said. “The stories are awesome to hear. It was awesome to sit back and listen to them, it just speaks to him as a person.”

Logjam

A staggering 16 teams had between 10-14 points entering Friday’s schedule, another testament to NHL parity.

The Red Wings had 13 points, so they were squarely in the mix.

But Blashill has told his players the importance of continually improving to remain above the pool.

“The urgency to play at a high level is extremely important,” Blashill said. “We have to make sure urgency is high for 60 minutes. When you look around, the teams are somewhere between 6-4 and 4-6.

“Everybody is so close, you got to make sure you’re on top of your game every game to make sure you give yourself the best chance to win.”

Blashill generally liked what he saw in the Red Wings’ first 10-game segment.

“As a group we have gotten better,” Blashill said. “It’s a group that wants to come out and get better. When we’re playing good, we’re moving the puck out of our end and we’re relentless in our pressure and pressuring up the ice.”

Ice chips

Tomas Tatar (two assists) and Henrik Zetterberg (one goal, one assist) each recorded their first multi-point games of the season.

… The Red Wings didn’t score on three power-play attempts, and didn’t look very good in the process.

“Our power play has to be way better,” Blashill said. “It wasn’t good enough at all. We had opportunities to make a difference and we didn’t make a difference. It has to be way better.”

... The Red Wings didn’t allow a Winnipeg power play, the first time they have not been shorthanded in a game since March 31, 2013, against Chicago.

… Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice was thrilled with the way his competed on the back end of back-to-back road games.

“After eight minutes we played a heck of a game for an NHL team, then factor the travel and seven guys out of the lineup, and the youth of our group,” Maurice said. “That’s as an enjoyable of a win from the coach’s standpoint, watching the way those guys played with each other.”

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

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