Gordie Howe was the embodiment of all things hockey — a graceful, skilled scorer and a mean-as-hell bruiser. So it’s only fitting that he has a statistical achievement that requires several different aspects of the game named after him.
A Gordie Howe hat trick is when a player scores a goal, records an assist and gets into a fight in the same game. It’s thought to be old-time hockey, like Howe played. Howe actually only achieved it twice during his career, and the name wasn’t coined until well after he retired in 1980 at age 52. A traditional hat trick is when a player scores three goals in a game.
Howe was known as much for his ability as his sheer physical strength. Just check out this photo. Despite his size, Howe only got into 22 fights in his career across nearly 2,500 games, and his two Gordie Howe hat tricks came in the same season — October of 1953 and March of 1954, both against the Maple Leafs. Here’s a breakdown of all his career fights.
The Society for International Hockey research says Rick Tocchet is the NHL’s all-time leader in Gordie Howe hat tricks with 18 across the regular reasons and playoffs. Brendan Shanahan is next with 17. The Gordie Howe hat trick wasn’t tracked until The Hockey News started doing it in 1996, and the origins of the name are unclear.
Howe wasn’t a fighter, necessarily, but he was tough as nails. He passed away in 2016 at the age of 88 after years of declining health.
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