The time Gordie Howe played in a pro hockey game at age 69

One of the things that stands out most about the career of Gordie Howe is the longevity and durability that famously allowed him to play pro hockey in five different decades (the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s).

But it did not stop there.

In the late 1990s the now defunct Detroit Vipers of the old International Hockey League signed a 69-year-old Howe to a one-day contract to not only help generate some interest in the team prior to the 1997-98 season, but to also give Howe the opportunity to become the first hockey player to ever play in six different decades.

The Vipers had a ceremony for him before their season opening game against the Kansas City Blades (the Blades won in a shootout) and presented him with a bronze sculpture.


He didn't record a point in the game and only played a single shift, but it was still enough to extend his career into a sixth decade.

Here is a brief look at him on the ice during that game.

After making his NHL debut in 1946, Howe played 25 consecutive seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and rarely missed a game as one of the league's most dominant players.

Following a brief two-year retirement in the early 1970s, Howe returned to pro hockey playing six years in the WHA for the Houston Aeros and Hartford Whalers through the age of 50. When the Whalers entered the NHL for the 1979-80 season, he played one more year at the age of 51 and still managed to record 40 points while playing in every single regular season game.

If you include his NHL and WHA totals, Howe scored 287 goals as a professional after turning 40 years old: 174 in the WHA, 98 with the Red Wings, and 15 with the Whalers.

And then he played a shift in an IHL game at the age of 69.

You will never see anything like any of that in hockey ever again.

gordie-howe.jpg
Hockey Hall of Famer Gordie Howe played pro hockey in six different decades. Getty
CBS Sports Writer

Adam Gretz has been writing about the NHL and taking an analytical approach to the game since the start of the 2008 season. A member of the PHWA since 2015, he has spent more than three years covering... Full Bio

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