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Gordie Howe, Canadian ice hockey legend, dies at 88

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Media captionA look back on some of the highlights of Gordie Howe's career

Legendary Canadian ice hockey player Gordie Howe, who was nicknamed "Mr Hockey", has died at the age of 88.

Howe spent most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings, winning the Stanley Cup four times.

He was in the top 10 of scorers for 21 consecutive years and was named Most Valuable Player six times, before finally retiring in 1980.

Howe was also named an NHL All Star 23 times and was inducted into the hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Gordie Howe died just before 08:00 on Friday at his son's home in Ohio, according to Sportsnet and CBS News. CNN reported his son Marty as confirming the news.

Howe's death was confirmed on the Twitter account of the Detroit Red Wings but it did not provide details on the cause.

Gordie Howe had suffered a stroke in 2014.

He made his debut in 1946, played 26 NHL and six World Hockey Association seasons and held many of the scoring records until the rise of fellow Canadian-born legend Wayne Gretzky.

Howe retired in 1971 but made a comeback with the Hartford Whalers in 1979-80 before finally quitting at 52, making him the only player whose career spanned five decades.

A unique hat-trick - Seth Bennett, BBC ice hockey commentator

Howe was a free scoring game changer, but it was his longevity which helped build legendary legacy which earned him the nickname Mr Hockey.

He was a power forward who loved to score and also was willing to drop the gloves and fight.

Howe led Detroit to four Stanley Cup championships and to first place in regular season play for seven consecutive years, a feat never equalled in NHL history.

After retirement, the 51-year-old Howe signed on for one final season in the NHL with Hartford, playing in all 80 games of the schedule, helping his team to make the play-offs with 15 goals.

And he will remain indelibly inked into hockey phrase books with the Gordie Howe hat trick, when a players scores a goal, gets an assist and has a fight in the same game.

He remains the only person to play NHL games in five different decades.

When the NHL launched its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008, Howe was the first recipient.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences, saying: "He will always be Mr Hockey."

Other hockey organisations and players led an outpouring of tributes on Twitter, many praising the man as much as the player.

Some recalled Howe's tremendous physical presence. But although he was said to have inaugurated the "Gordie Howe hat trick" - a goal, an assist and a penalty for fighting in the same game - he only did it himself once.

And after a particularly bruising treatment of opponent Lou Fontinato in 1959, most chose not to challenge him.

An obituary in the Globe and Mail recalled Howe's comments on the day in 1966 when the city of Saskatoon celebrated Gordie Howe Day. He simply said: "Thank you for all the kind words. I know if I can live up to even 10% of it, I'll be a very happy man."

Howe still holds the record for NHL games played - 1,767 - and the Red Wings retired his number nine shirt.

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