Gordie Howe’s name is all over the National Hockey League record book, mostly for all of the goals he scored in his long career. Gordie, though, was also known as a guy who didn’t shy away from contact on the ice.
Howe used his stick for reasons that had nothing directly to do with shooting the puck into the net and he wasn’t afraid to apply a hard check when the situation called for it. In the opening game of the 1956 Stanley Cup playoffs on March 20, Howe sent Toronto’s Gordie Hannigan (was every 1950s hockey player named Gordie?) into the boards so quickly that referee Frank Udvari had to scramble up to the ledge to avoid become a sandwich.
With apologies (maybe) to the 1970 Bobby Orr “flying goal” shot, RMY calls it “in our opinion,the greatest hockey photograph ever taken.”
This particular copy of the 6 x 8 1/4″ photo was issued by United Press and is one of hundreds of photos being offered at auction in RMY Auctions’ April Collectors Auction. It still carries the original clipping from publication and a date stamp on the back.
The Wings would hold on to win the game 3-2 and went on to beat the Maple Leafs four games to one in the series, setting up yet another showdown in the 1956 Stanley Cup Finals against Montreal. Despite his tendency to use his body when necessary, Howe’s pro hockey career would last another 24 years.