It is just last week that I wrote my tribute to the Greatest, the athlete of the 20th Century, Muhammad Ali. I am glad he received the recognition in his death by everyone.
But you know that when the BBC finds it important to report the death of a hockey player, that hockey must be special. Indeed Gordie Howe was the Muhammad Ali, the Babe Ruth or Jolting Joe, or Michael Jordan of our sport, ice hockey. Nice of BBC to recognise possibly the greatest Canadian sports figure.
when he played for Hartford. But lowly Hartford wasn't exactly covered regularly, but I remember vividly when he took part in the All Star game at the age of 54. Maybe the league wasn't as fast then but no matter he was one of the best on the ice. Since his time there really wasn't a player of that charisma, that skill and power to replace him. Yes Gretzky was maybe more offensively skilled and had the charisma but not the longevity and the power. Bobby Orr could contend on skills, toughness and popularity levels but his career was cut short due to injury and he didn't win the Cups that Gordie did. Similarly Mario Lemieux, who overcame illness and injury to retire and come back but his numbers sadly do not reach the supreme those of Gretzky and Howe Mark Messier had the toughness and the leadership and the skills and the Cups but somehow not everyone revered him in the same manner as they do Mr. Hockey.
Now maybe Jaromir Jagr who could possibly spend another 10 years in the league, win a cup or so compete to claim to be Greatest, but Jaromir despite many attributes doesn't have the charisma. No doubt with every goal and every record he breaks his appreciation among hockey fans and experts grows. I shall watch the rest of his Pro career with interest.
RIP Mr. Hockey