They didn’t call him “Mr. Hockey” for nothing, you know. Act I of Gordie Howe’s career began with the Detroit Red Wings back in 1946. He spent a not inconsiderable 25 seasons in Detroit — and three with the Hartford Whalers — before entering the Hall of Fame in 1972. Howe had supposedly retired the previous year.
For those unaware of Act II, you can probably guess where this is headed. After two years in a front-office job with his Red Wings, Howe signed with the Houston Aeros (playing alongside his sons, Mark and Marty) before moving to the Hartford Whalers. When the team joined the National Hockey League, Howe found himself skating with the big boys again at age 51. But retirement number two doesn’t quite close the book on Howe: remarkably, on Oct. 3, 1997, he took to the ice (at almost 70 years of age) for Act III and one final shift with the Detroit Vipers of the International Hockey League. Howe is the only hockey player to play in a professional game over six consecutive decades.