Gordie Howe once said, “You’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap or the soreness or all the aches and pains, and continue to play for a long, long time.”
Howe, who died over the weekend at age 88, played hockey until he was 52, longer than any other hockey player. He played twenty-six seasons in the National Hockey League and six seasons in the World Hockey Association. His first 25 seasons were with the Detroit Red Wings.
To honor is memory Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan will light up the north and south sides of its 21-story headquarters tower at 600 E. Lafayette in Detroit with a giant number 9, the number he wore as a Red Wing.
“All of us at Blue Cross begin this week with heavy hearts, as we join our friends at Olympia Entertainment, Detroit Red Wings fans and the hockey world in paying our respects to a gentleman whose contributions to his sport and community over so many decades made him truly unique,” said BCBSM President & CEO Daniel J. Loepp. “We light our building regularly to recognize and celebrate important causes and events that impact our community. We are honored to put Gordie Howe’s number 9 in lights to recognize Mr. Hockey for the memories he gave us on the ice, and the generosity and good spirit he showed us off the ice.”
The light display will appear nightly on the building through June 27.
In case you’re wondering why Howe wore the number 9 here’s a quote from him back in 2014, when he was interviewed by Canadian hockey star Wayne Gretzky for The National Post.
“It’s a pretty classic number, and a lot of great players have worn it, but what it meant to me was that I got a better night’s sleep,” the then 86-year-old explained. “Many people may not know that my first number with the Red Wings was No. 17 until early into my first season. The No. 9 became available and it was offered to me. We travelled by train back then, and guys with higher numbers got the top bunk on the sleeper car. No. 9 meant I got a lower berth on the train, which was much nicer than crawling into the top bunk.”
We will miss you, Gordie.