On November 27, 1965, Detroit Red Wing Gordie Howe scores his 600th goal in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. He was the first (and the last, until Wayne Gretzky) NHL player to score 600 times in his career. He’d broken the previous record–544 goals, set by the legendary Canadien Maurice “Rocket” Richard–in November 1963. That game’s referee told reporters that “Gordie Howe can do more things better than anyone else. That’s just all there is to it.”
November 27 was a lucky day for Howe: On that day in 1960, in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he’d become the first NHL player to earn 1,000 points. (He’d broken Richard’s 946-point record earlier that year.) Exactly five years later, he scored his 600th goal: a gentle flip shot past Canadiens keeper Gump Worsley at the Montreal Forum. Even with Howe’s goal, the home team had the game well in hand–they eventually won 3-2–so the fans could afford to be generous about Howe’s accomplishment. They cheered politely and sent newspapers, programs and other scraps of paper fluttering into the air and onto the ice.
In Howe’s 32-year career, he played 2,421 games, scored 1,071 goals (including goals he scored in the post-season and with teams that belonged to the World Hockey Association instead of the NHL) and racked up 2,589 points. (He also earned 2,418 penalty minutes in his career, a tribute to his legendary aggression. His teammates called him “Mr. Elbows”; Sports Illustrated said he was “calculatingly and primitively savage…a punishing artist with a hockey stick, slashing, spearing, tripping and high-sticking his way to a comparative degree of solitude on the ice.”) Until Gretzky came along, Howe held the NHL records for goals–810 in the regular season–and points–1,850. He was the league MVP six times.
Gordie Howe retired in 1971, after his 25th season with the Red Wings, but he couldn’t stay off the ice for long: He soon joined the WHA team in Houston, where he played alongside his sons Mark and Marty. In 1977 all three Howes moved to Hartford to play for the Whalers. That team joined the NHL two years later, so Howe was able to add a few goals, points and penalty minutes to his official records before he retired for good at age 52.