Rest in peace, Gordie Howe.

I know I’m just one of the countless hockey fans stunned by the death of NHL Hall of Famer Gordie Howe today. Even though he was 88 years old and had suffered ill health these past few years, it’s hard to imagine the hockey world without him in it. While his on-ice achievements are too lengthy to list here, I’ll admit that his writing made me admire him most. I read his 2014 memoir Mr. Hockey expecting the voice of a grizzled veteran, which made the passages involving his lifelong romance with his wife Colleen that much more touching. I teared up a few times reading the letters that he wrote during their courtship. They weren’t flowery love notes at all, but honest and terse in a way that showed that he was overwhelmed by his feelings. I came away from the book with renewed faith in the world, and amazed that I never knew how cool Colleen and Gordie Howe were before.

I’m sure Mr. Howe would frown at my sappiness, so I’ll leave you with my other Gordie Howe memory. You may recall the “Bart The Lover” episode of The Simpsons, where Bart creates an imaginary boyfriend for Mrs. Krabappel as a prank. When Bart has to send her a picture of Woody, he encloses a photo of Gordie Howe. On the commentary track of the third season’s DVD, the writers reveal that Howe’s sons told them that he loved that episode, and felt honored to be chosen. Awesome, right?

There will never be another one like him.

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