DETROIT (AP) — Thousands of people filed quietly onto the floor of a darkened Joe Louis Arena on Tuesday to pay respects to Gordie Howe, the hockey Hall of Famer known as “Mr. Hockey.”
The home of the Detroit Red Wings, Howe’s team for more than two decades and four Stanley Cup championships, was opened for 12 hours — from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for No. 9 — and the public turned out in force for one of the most revered athletes in NHL history.
Wayne Gretzky, Scotty Bowman and Al Kaline were among the pallbearers who guided Howe’s casket down a long strip of red carpet that ran through the middle of the arena floor — with a “9” illuminated on both sides — and toward the opposite end of the iceless rink.
“It was one of the great honors of my life,” Gretzky said. “He was everything to me.”
Howe’s retired No. 9 jersey was lowered to just above his casket adorned with dozens of red roses. Pairs of the four Stanley Cup banners he helped the Red Wings win from 1950 to 1955 were lowered off to each side, honoring the Canadian star who died Friday in Ohio at the age of 88.
Video monitors below the championship…