SAN JOSE – Among Gordie Howe’s many contributions to the NHL is the fact that his name is synonymous with being both skilled and combative.
“I think everybody knows what a Gordie Howe hat trick is,” San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton said. “It’s the pride of hockey players.”
Players register a Gordie Howe hat trick when they record a goal, an assist and earn a fighting major penalty in a single game.
“You get one of those and you are pretty proud of it and I’ve had the pleasure of getting a couple in my career,” Thornton said Saturday as he remembered Howe, the day after the NHL legend died at age 88.
Thornton was 16 when he met Howe for the first time in Detroit.
“It was such a huge thrill,” Thornton recalled. “He was a bigger-than-life personality and player. When you meet a guy like that you don’t know what to expect, but he met all of my expectations and more.”
Thornton said Howe’s demeanor off the ice was a sharp contrast from…