DETROIT (CBS Detroit/AP) – A planned new bridge connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, will be named after hockey great Gordie Howe.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper made the announcement Thursday in Windsor. The 87-year-old known as “Mr. Hockey” was born in Saskatchewan and led the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup championships.

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Harper said Howe’s name is symbolic of the relationship between the U-S and Windsor.

“This is joining, as I said, two countries, two jurisdictions, two communities in what is a very strong and important relationship,” Harper said. “And I don’t think we could think of a better person who symbolizes that relationship than Gordie Howe.”

The yet-to-be built Gordie Howe International Bridge is expected to be operational in 2020.

[Gordie Howe’s Son On Naming Of Bridge: ‘This Is As Big An Honor As He’s Ever Had’]

Howe suffered a series of strokes in the last six months that had many fearing the worst, but his family in February said he was recovering thanks to stem cell treatments he received in Tijuana, Mexico.

Since then, his family has said he’s gaining strength.

Howe was the NHL’s Most Valuable Player six times. He played on four Stanley Cup championship teams in Detroit during a 25-year stint that began in 1946.

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In 2011, his son Marty Howe told the Windsor Star he wanted the bridge named after his father.

“It would be a nice honour to have the new bridge named after Gordie as he was born in Canada,” said Marty Howe in an e-mail, per the Star.

“He crossed the bridge on his way to Detroit to start his long lasting hockey career.”

(credit: MDOT)

(credit: MDOT)

Authorities say the limited capacities of the 85-year-old Ambassador Bridge and Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, which is too tight for tractor-trailers, are impeding trade.

Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun opposes the Howe bridge and seeks to add a span to his.

The U.S. State Department approved the building of the bridge last year, but construction hasn’t started yet. Canada is paying most of the $2 billion project’s cost on both sides of the border and plans to recoup the money through tolls.

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