USA honor for Mark Howe: Like father, like son

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Former Flyers defenseman Mark Howe received the Lester Patrick Award for his lifetime of service to hockey in the United State, as his father, Gordie, did in 1967,

RECEIVING A lifetime achievement award for his service to hockey in the United States stirred up a wonderful childhood memory for 61-year-old Mark Howe.

His father, the legendary Gordie Howe, was given the same award 49 years ago. Mark Howe, who was born in Detroit where his father was a superstar, was 12 at the time - and still a long way from starting out on his own Hall of Fame career.

He recalled being at the ceremony in Manhattan surrounded by hockey royalty. Budd Lynch, the Red Wings radio announcer who had lost an arm as a Canadian soldier during World War II, was there.

After the festivities, they all went for a walk.

"It ended up being a cold day and what I remember most was we were down in Times Square and I was freezing," said Howe, largely considered the greatest defenseman in Flyers history. "So Budd gave me his jacket to use and it had one arm sewn shut."

It's funny what you remember as a kid.

Howe received the Lester Patrick Award Wednesday night for his lifetime of service, which included a stint on the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that surprisingly won a silver medal in Japan. It's an achievement that's often lost in the shadows of the gold medal teams of 1960 and 1980.

Howe, who was 16, remains the youngest player ever to win an Olympic hockey medal.

"When we got him to come to the Flyers (in 1982), talk about an immediate impact," said former teammate Paul Holmgren. "All of the sudden we had a franchise defenseman. He's Gordie's son, but he forged his own career."

Minor league coach and pioneer Pat Kelly also was given a Patrick Award, named for one of the sport's great visionaries of the early in the 20th Century. He's the guy credited for creating the blue line, among other things.

The Patrick Awards were part of the 2016 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies held at the Marriott Hotel at 12th & Market.

Former NHL veteran Craig Janney, longtime high school coach Bill Belisle and Team USA's 1996 World Cup winners were enshrined as a group.

The 1996 team began its run in Philadelphia.

Pool play for Team USA started with a game against mighty Canada in the first event held at what was then the CoreStates Center. It was mayhem - on and off the ice.

Mike Richter, a Flourtown native and Team USA's goalie, remembers two things when he first walked into the arena. One was that painters were still adding finishing touches. The other was teammates Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin jumping into a hot tub like a couple of teenagers.

Joel Otto, a master at faceoffs, was directed by Team USA head coach Ron Wilson to send a message to the Canadians. He complied with a two-handed crosscheck to Team Canada alternate captain Eric Lindros, who just happened to be an NHL teammate of Lindros' with the Flyers.

John LeClair and Derian Hatcher also played for Team USA. Holmgren was an assistant coach.

"Life goes by fast," Richter said. "Twenty years goes by in a blink."

Howe walked out of the room after chatting with reporters. He and his brother Marty were proudly wearing red No. 9 pins on their lapels in honor of their father, who passed away in June.

"I was there in 1967 when my dad won the award when it was presented in New York," Mark Howe said, recalling that chilly night. "That makes it even that much more special - to have my name on an award that his name is on."


barkowe@phillynews.com

@EdBarkowitz