Gordie Howe

On the same day Muhammad Ali was laid to rest, another all-time sports legend passed away. At 88, Gordie Howe had enjoyed a long, prolific life -- in fact, by North American sports standards, no one's sporting life withstood the test of time better.

Howe holds a number of records for his longevity in professional hockey, and many consider him to be the greatest player in the history of the game. Howe was a player who could do a little bit of everything, and whose career only gets more impressive with the passing of time.

There will never be another like Gordie Howe. But to understand that statement in all its truth, you have to recognize just how unique Howe's life and career was. The man's status as a legend was never in doubt.

1. He Made 29 All-Star Games

How's that for ridiculous statistics? Twenty-three of those All-Star appearances came in the NHL. His total of 29 came in 32 seasons of professional hockey.

Counting only the NHL All-Star Games, no other player made 20 appearances.

2. He Was A Top 5 NHL Scorer For 20 Straight Seasons

Howe was one of the most well-rounded players in hockey history, but he's best-known for his prowess as a scorer.

Howe owned a number of all-time NHL scoring records until Wayne Gretzky broke them in the 1990s.

Related: Mark Howe: Growing Up As Gordie Howe's Son

3. He Met His Wife In A Bowling Alley When He Was 17

Ahh, young love. By the time Howe met his future wife, Colleen, he was already playing for the Detroit Red Wings. She, meanwhile, was attending high school in Detroit. They were married four years later.

With one of Howe's many nicknames being "Mr. Hockey," Colleen Howe was then dubbed "Mrs. Hockey."

4. His Number Was Retired In 1972, But He Played Until 1980

In 1971, Howe retired at the ripe old age of 43. Sure that he was done, the Red Wings retired his jersey in 1972.

But after two seasons away from the game, Howe returned to the ice. And not just for another season or two: He went on for another seven years.

Howe spent six years in the WHA before his team, the Whalers, joined the NHL in his last season.

Related: What Makes A Player Special: Excerpt From Ken Dryden's Classic 'The Game'

5. He Didn't Quit Playing Until He Was 52

He's the oldest professional athlete ever to play any of the four major American sports. In fact, he owns pretty much every longevity record you could dream up.

Howe's professional career spanned five different decades, which no other athlete has ever done.

6. He Played Professional Hockey With Two Of His Sons

One motivation for un-retiring in 1973: Howe wanted to play hockey with his sons. He joined Marty and Mark on the Houston Aeros, a WHA team.

That season, at 46 and after two years away from the game, he won the league's MVP award.

Related: Chris Chelios, American Hockey Icon, Remains Loyal To His Olympic Teammates

7. His Wife Was A Pioneering Female Sports Agent

Colleen Howe was a force in her own right: She became one of the first major female sports agents in the industry and enjoyed other professional achievements, including writing books.

Howe was always quick to credit her for his own success. They remained married until her death in 2009.

8. Some Of His Best Seasons Came In His Forties

Twice in his mid-40s, Howe scored more than 100 points in a season, ranking among the most prolific scoring campaigns of his long career.

Few players seem to get better with age, but it often seemed like Howe had managed to pull it off.

Related: Derek Sanderson Gets Into Bar Business With Joe Namath

9. He Only Earned Two 'Gordie Howe Hat Tricks' In His Career

Howe's multi-faceted skills were so famous that a novelty stat was invented in his honor: The "Gordie Howe Hat Trick" reflects a player who records a goal, assist and a fight in the same game. Although it's an unofficial stat, hockey enthusiasts have kept track over the years, with a few players tallying more than a dozen GHHTs in their careers. The San Jose Sharks even track the stat in their media guide:

Gordie Howe Hat Trick

Despite being its namesake, Gordie Howe only recorded two of them in his professional hockey career.

10. His Face Received More Than 500 Stitches Over His Career

Few athletes have represented toughness as well as Howe, and that reputation wasn't in name only. A close look at his face could reveal the hard truths of a 32-year professional hockey career:

Since the news of his passing was announced Friday, the hockey world has been in mourning, paying their respects to Mr. Hockey. Some of the highlights:

Rest in peace, Mr. Hockey.

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