When I read over the transcript of Mark Howe's Hall of Fame induction speech last night, it was exactly the classy, respectful representation I expected. With nods to his former teammates, the men who drafted him, the victims of the plane crash in Russia—including his former blue line partner Brad McCrimmon, and loving and thankful words to his mother and father, Howe represented everyone on his hockey career path well.
It was when I saw a brief video clip this morning that I did a double-take. Howe was putting on a red jersey over his tuxedo. A Red Wings jersey. I had missed the induction on NHL Network last night because it overlapped with the Flyers-Hurricanes game, and this was the first I'd seen of the footage from Toronto. Howe played his final seasons with the Red Wings and works for them to this day. But that's not why he put on the winged wheel sweater during his speech last night.
A respectful and thankful son above all else, Howe fulfilled a proud father's wish. Video below.
Concluding his speech, Mark directed his words toward his father, the great Gordie Howe:
“I guess there is one person left to thank in this building. I’m not going to thank you for being my linemate for 6 years. I'm not going to thank you for elbowing a guy for taking a dirty shot at me. I’m not going to thank you for being the greatest hockey player ever. I want to thank you for being the husband, the father, and the person that you are. You are the role model by which I tried to lead my life. I’m so proud to call you my dad."
Mark recounted a moment when upon his own retirement, Gordie said that he wished his son had worn his #9 Red Wings jersey for just one game. While he wasn't able to make that wish come true, I think we can assume Gordie would happily settle for Mark wearing it at the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"You've never asked me for anything in your lifetime, so I'd like to honor your request at this time, on a much bigger stage."
Howe then put on the classic red sweater of the Detroit Red Wings, the white number 9 and 'HOWE' on the nameplate, honoring his dad. (And perhaps his favorite movie, Ferris Bueller's Day Off.)
Howe went back to the podium as the audience stood to applaud the gesture and said simply, "Dad, I love you."
Congratulations to Mark Howe, a legendary Flyer, on taking his rightful place among the legends of the league.