In the weeks and months following the stroke, Howe’s family did their best to keep the public up to date on the legendary player’s recovery, and he later traveled to Mexico, where he had a stem cell treatment that family members said had given him a miraculous recovery.
The main reason the Howe children decided to take Gordie to Mexico, was that they did not believe their dad would last much longer otherwise.
“We knew that if we didn’t do anything he would be dead within a couple of weeks because he would not want to live the way he was living,” his son Murray Howe said at the time. “Just laying in a bed, that’s just not him.”
He recovered enough that with much fanfare, he celebrated his 88th birthday in March at Joe Louis Arena in front of a sold-out crowd. The jubilant crowd gave him a standing ovation and led a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
The legend smiled and waved, acknowledging the praise and accolades that had followed him for at least seven decades.
“He wanted to eat, sleep, look like and play hockey like Gordie Howe,” Scotty Bowman, the most successful coach in history commented on the gordiehowe.com website. “I pick Gordie as my No. 1 all-time player. He played the longest. He was the toughest player of his era. He was the best offensive player and defensively he was used in all situations. He could play center, right wing, and defense. He could shoot right and he could shoot left.
“If you could make a mold for a hockey player it would be him. I never thought there was another player close to him.”