Mark Howe should be in the Hall of Fame

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:43 AM ET

There was a Hall of Fame debate and eventual vote over a nine-year Philadelphia Flyers’ player on Monday — and it wasn’t necessarily about Eric Lindros.

The player is Mark Howe.

The result could be announced this afternoon. The announcement, if made, will end an unspoken injustice of sorts: After 12 years of patiently waiting, and never being consumed by any apparent slight, it is very possible that Howe will join his famous father, Gordie, as an elected member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Tuesday.

This could be an historic day of sorts.

A woman, albeit prematurely considering the wonky state of women’s hockey, could well be announced for the Hall today.

Pat Burns, running out of time in his fight with cancer, is another possibility.

And maybe there’s a place for Doug Gilmour: Imagine Burns going in with his favourite player?

But with Howe, there has been no lead-up, no pressure from the media, no public campaigns, just typical Mark Howe business, quiet, humble, understated, unsensational.

“Probably the biggest thing is I didn’t win the Stanley Cup,” said Howe, speaking from his summer home on the Jersey shore, taking a break from waxing his boat to answer why he has been not just passed over, but basically forgotten in the annual Hall of Fame debate and discussion.

You ask any 10 people about Lindros, eligible for the first time this year, and you will get 10 different opinions, all of them passionate.

You ask 10 people about Howe and you may get a shrug, which is what Howe does himself.

“I won’t compare what I did to anyone else,” he said.

“I’m not going to say I’m better than somebody else. That’s not me.”

The truth on Mark Howe: He is the only three-time first team all-star defenceman eligible for the Hall, but not in it.

He has watched in recent years as Brian Leetch and Larry Murphy and Rod Langway and Scott Stevens — none of them three-time first-team all-stars — were elected.

He has watched from afar, and if it bothered him, he never let anyone know.

“Over the years people have asked me, why aren’t you in the Hall?” said Howe.

“I don’t really know the answer. Maybe it was being in my dad’s shadow, or whatever it is.

“Maybe it was because I didn’t win a Cup. If it ever happens, it would be an absolute great honour. But if I had to do everything (in my career) over again, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Howe won a Memorial Cup and was the tournament MVP. He won two AVCO Cups, lost two AVCO finals.

He was, when the WHA ceased operations, the leading playoff scorer in league history.

Three times in the NHL, he played for the Stanley Cup.

“I think in 22 years pro, I played in seven championship series. One out of every three years, I was in the finals. That’s a pretty good record I think,” he said.

Over the years, Howe has been one of those players difficult to pinpoint and assess because he played in the NHL and the WHA, because he played forward and defence (although almost all defence in the NHL), because he wasn’t Gordie Howe.

But he is not like a Bert Blyleven or a Jack Morris, consumed by his Hall of Fame snub.

“I got to play seven years with my dad and my brother,” said Howe.

“Any individual honour I would ever receive could not top that.”

Not to him, maybe, but to his father it might.

“My dad, are you kidding me?” said Howe.

“If this (Hall of Fame) happened, it would mean a ton to him. Whenever your kids do well and achieve, you take more pleasure from that than anything you do. Watching your kids have success means a lot more than anything I’ve done myself. It would mean the world to him if I made it and that would mean the world to me.

“And if it doesn’t happen, I’ll have zero regrets. My life goal was to play 10 years pro and average $20,000 a year.

“Thank God, I didn’t achieve that.”

Sometime today, a phone call may come informing Mark Howe that he is a member of the 2010 class of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

And if the phone doesn’t ring, well, he’ll just go back to waxing his boat.

steve.simmons@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @simmonssteve


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