By Allan Muir
If you know me, you’ve heard this story before. But today, being the 85th birthday of the great Gordie Howe, it feels like a good time to re-tell it.
The first thing you need to know is that Bobby Orr was my hero as a kid, which didn’t make me different from a lot of kids growing up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. My room was a shrine to No. 4, littered with posters, lunchboxes and hockey cards. I worshipped the guy.
Naturally, I assumed I’d grow up to be just like him. My dad, a Habs fan who failed to convert me to Jean Beliveau, says I cried after my first time on the ice because I couldn’t skate like Orr. It took me a couple years to realize why that was an unrealistic expectation. Of course I couldn’t skate like him. Or shoot. Or pass. Or defend. Nobody could. Orr was the greatest player who had ever lived.
I assumed every hockey fan recognized that. But in Windsor, Ontario, just a few miles away from the Olympia, that was not a widely held opinion.
Where I was from, Gordie Howe was the man. And my grandfather, Fred Preston, was only too happy to remind me of that every chance he got.