Better With Popcorn

Mark Howe looks back on his career during Ceremony

Upon entering Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, there was no question as to what the night was all about.

Mark Howe, arguably the greatest defenseman ever to wear a Philadelphia Flyers uniform, was being given the honor of having his number retired, a distinction previously only awarded to four other men in the entire history of the storied club.

“I stand before you today a proud yet humbled man,” Howe said at the beginning of his speech. “I am being honored tonight in the presence of the two teams that have been a part of my life for the past 30 years.”

In addition to his 10 years with the Flyers, Howe ended his career with the Detroit Red Wings, the team his father Gordie played the majority of his own career with.

 “In Detroit […] I got to wear the uniform that my father proudly wore for 25 years,” Howe said. “I have had the opportunity to work for Mike and Marion Ilitch.  Their passion for hockey and their compassion for those who have worn a Red Wing uniform is second to none.”

He has been employed with the team as a scout since his retirement from playing.

Having both teams in attendance was something that made the night even more special for the honoree.

While he was able to look back fondly upon his career with the Wings, it was his time with the Flyers that he focused upon the most.

“As I said at my Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech in November, when I first came to Philadelphia back in 1982, it was as if I was born to be a Flyer,” he said. “The orange and black began to flow through my veins and instantly consumed my heart.  The memories of playing for the Flyers will be a part of me forever.”

The opportunity allowed Howe to look back on his time playing with the likes of Bobby Clarke, Bill Barber and a long list of all the great Flyers players he played with over his years with the team.

Of course, he made sure to leave the best for last and acknowledged his “dear partner the Beast,” the late Brad McCrimmon who was lost in September in the tragic Lokomotiv plane crash.

Howe went on to thank his family, the fans and shared the joy he felt in wearing the number two for the last time at the Winter Classic Alumni game in December.

With his number about to go up into the rafters, his family and friends in attendance and a group of gifts from both teams (including an all expenses-paid trip from the Flyers), Howe had just about everything he could have ever asked for.

However, the guest of honor did have one final request from both of his former clubs.

“I can only wish that the Red Wings and Flyers meet here in June for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals,” he said.

With that, Howe addressed the crowd one last time before he and his family hoisted his name and number into the rafters forever.

“To the fans of Philadelphia and the entire Flyers organization, it was my honor and privilege to have represented your city and your team wearing the #2 jersey of the Philadelphia Flyers,” Howe concluded to a raucous applause from all in attendance. 

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