Gordie Howe skated the first shift with the Detroit Vipers in their International Hockey League opener Friday, becoming the only pro in his sport to play in six decades.
The 69-year-old Hall of Fame player, wearing his familiar No. 9, smiled broadly as a capacity crowd of 20,182 stood and cheered his entrance at The Palace.
“That was beautiful,” Howe said. “You always want to be in touch with the fans.”
Howe never actually touched the puck during his 47 seconds, although a shot by teammate Brad Shaw hit him and deflected toward Kansas City Blades goaltender Jon Casey, who made the save.
Howe last wore a minor league sweater in the spring of 1946. He played the next 25 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. In 1,767 games, he scored 801 goals. He led the Red Wings to four Stanley Cup championships and was named MVP five times.