Mark played minor hockey in Detroit with the Tier II Junior Red Wings. In 1970-71, at the age of 15, he collected 107 points to lead the Western Ontario Junior 'A' Hockey League in scoring. A knee injury knocked him out of the first three months of the next season, so when he had regained his health, he joined the U.S. national team and helped the squad win a silver medal at the Winter Olympic Games in Sapporo, Japan.
After a deal was worked out with the London Knights, Mark and his brother, Marty, joined the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey League in 1972-73. In his only season of major junior hockey, he scored 38 goals and 66 assists for 104 points, and helped lead the Marlies to the Memorial Cup championship. He was the recipient of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the outstanding player in the championship tournament after scoring four goals and four assists in three games.
The Howe family made history with the Houston Aeros of the WHA in 1973-74. Gordie came out of retirement to play with Mark and Marty on the same forward line. Mark scored his first professional goal exactly 27 years after his father scored his first NHL goal with the Detroit Red Wings. Mark finished the season with 38 goals, earning selection to the WHA's Second All-Star Team as well as the Lou Kaplan Trophy as the league's top rookie. A few months later, Mark scored six points in seven games for the WHA in a 1974 series against the Soviet Union.
In 1975, Mark led all playoff scorers with 10 goals and 22 points in 13 games while leading Houston to the Avco Cup. Because he was an extremely versatile player, coach Bill Dineen made use of him both at forward and defence. One season, Howe made the WHA mid-season All-Star squad at left wing. He played defence the second half of the year and excelled to the point that he ended up as one of the blueliners on the All-Star squad at the end of the season.
In 1977-78, Mark joined the New England franchise and remained with it when the Whalers joined the NHL as the Hartford Whalers in 1979. Howe made the transition to the NHL with ease, scoring 80 points that season. Coach Don Blackburn moved him back to the blueline to improve the team's transition game and quarterback the powerplay. Later, he was moved back to forward to add offensive punch and check the opposition's top scoring line.
Along with his good fortune, Mark did experience a major setback that influenced the rest of his career. On December 27, 1980, he was seriously injured by one of the older style nets. During the game, Howe lost his balance when chasing a loose puck in his own zone and went feet first into the goal. His skates raised the goal posts off the ice, causing the elevated point at the center back to pierce him in the buttock, just missing the spinal column. This accident forced the NHL to install safer nets without sharp points and with magnetic fasteners that would allow the goal to become dislodged more easily. This injury hit him in the prime of his career, and when he didn't bounce back as quickly as hoped, the Whalers became a little anxious.
Howe was involved in a multi-player transaction in August 1982 that saw him end up in Philadelphia, where he became a fixture on one of the NHL's top clubs and twice recorded 20 goal seasons. The accident in Hartford curtailed his offensive capabilities to an extent, but nonetheless he remained a top player. His mobility and experience were key ingredients in the team's run to the finals against the triumphant Edmonton Oilers in 1985 and 1987. Howe was selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1983, 1986 and 1987.
In 1992 Howe lived out a childhood fantasy by signing as a free agent with his father's old team, the Detroit Red Wings. This also represented a chance for him to play on a potential Stanley Cup winner at this late stage in his career. He played parts of three seasons in Detroit before retiring in 1995 due to recurring back problems.
Mark's NHL career consisted of 929 regular season games in which he scored 197 goals and contributed 545 assists for 742 points. In post-season play, he scored 10 goals and 51 assists for 61 points in 101 games. In the WHA, he played 426 regular season games, scoring 208 times and assisting on 296 others for 504 points. In the playoffs, he added 41 goals and 51 assists for 92 points in 74 games.
Upon retiring, Mark accepted a role in the Red Wings front office and soon began scouting and working with the young
defencemen in the minors while making occasional public appearances on behalf of the club. He repeated family
history as his name was engraved on the Stanley Cup as the club's pro scout for the back-to-back championship
seasons in 1997 and 1998. His name also appears on the Red Wing's 2002 Stanley Cup engraving.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame
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