CSN's Tim Panaccio and Sarah Baicker are hearing that the Flyers will retire Mark Howe's number before a Flyers-Red Wings game on Tuesday, March 6th. Howe, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last week (see his honoring of father Gordie here), finished his career with the Red Wings and currently works as their Director of Pro Scouting.
The Hall of Fame induction news brought with it a resurgence in the calls to see Howe's 2 raised to the rafters in Philadelphia, and the Flyers appear ready to oblige.
Howe will join an exclusive club, with only four other numbers having been retired by the Flyers—Bernie Parent (1), Barry Ashbee (4), Bill Barber (7), and Bobby Clarke (16).
It's a little odd when teams allow a number to be worn for years before retiring it, while others put a grace period in place, making a number unavailable for some time before finally allowing it back into use or finally retiring it for good. For many of us, '2' will always be Howe's number in Philadelphia, but we have seen quite a few nameplates above that digit since Howe left, including Lukas Krajicek as recently as the 2009-2010 season. Some of us wondered whether this would prevent Howe from joining the pantheon.
Fans have been begging for this for years, and we couldn't be happier to see one of our first favorite Flyers join the guys we've only read about and seen grainy footage of. Howe is the best defenseman to ever play for the Flyers, spending 10 great seasons in Orange & Black. When we ranked our field of 64 for the top Philly athletes of the past 30 years, Howe was our 1-seed for the Flyers.
Here's what Rev had to say then:
Smooth. Unflappable. Steady. Smart. When I think of Mark Howe these are adjectives that come to mind. Best defenseman in Flyers history also comes to mind. Unlike other defensemen who excelled offensively, Howe was incredibly responsible in his own end. He emerged from the shadow of his father Gordie to carve out a remarkable career. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1982 thanks to a trade which sent Ken Linseman, Greg Adams, and a first and third round pick in the ’83 draft to Hartford. He paid immediate dividends, putting up 67 points (20 goals, 47 assists) his first season in the orange and black. He was a three-time All Star and three-time Norris Trophy (best defenseman) finalist. His 1985-86 season was one of the greatest single seasons ever put together by a defenseman, as he played in 77 games, scoring 24 goals and notching 58 assists for 82 total points. He was the NHL plus/minus leader that year, posting a ridiculous +85. His Herculean efforts were recognized as he was a Hart Trophy (NHL MVP) finalist. He helped lead the Flyers to two Stanley Cup Finals (1985 and 1987), and won the Barry Ashbee award as the Flyers best defenseman three times. He ended his Flyers career as the all-time leader in points by a defenseman with 480 (138g, 342a) in 594 games. He was, without question, the greatest blueliner in Flyers history.
While it's not official yet, it might be a good idea to look into those March 6th tickets if you want to see the rare sight of a number being raised to the rafters in Philadelphia.