Gordie Howe - Signs With The Red Wings
Signs with the Red Wings
Howe's hockey team at King George Community School won its league championship in 1941, 1942, and 1944. Howe was also a member of the team at the King George Athletic Club, a sports center set up for the youth of Saskatoon's West End. The team made it all the way to the finals of Saskatechewan's bantam league in 1942, where it lost to Regina. Based on the teams' winning records, Howe attracted the attention of a New York Rangers scout in 1943 and he was invited to the team's training camp in Winnepeg that year. The experience overwhelmed the awkward fifteen-year-old, who quickly returned home. Within months, a scout from the Red Wings convinced Howe to attend his team's training camp. With the promise that some of his friends from Saskatoon would also be attending, Howe agreed to give it a try. He immediately demonstrated his promise in the training camp and the Red Wings signed him to a contract. Although Howe was supposed to finish high school while playing for the Galt, Ontario Red Wings in the 1944-45 season, he decided to end his formal education and instead work at a local metal works. The next year he was sent to the Omaha Knights for the full season at a salary of $2,200; with twenty-two goals and twenty-six assists in fifty-one games, Howe was brought up to the Red Wings for the 1946-47 season. He was eighteen years old and made $5,000 in his debut season in the NHL.
Howe was not a breakout star in his first season with the Red Wings. Although he played fifty-eight games, he scored just seven times and had fifteen assists. Teamed with left wing Ted Lindsay and veteran center Sid Abel in 1947, Howe about doubled his numbers to sixteen goals and twenty-eight assists in sixty games. The three players became known as the "Production Line," one of the best offensive lineups in the history of the sport. The Red Wings made it to the finals of the NHL championships at the end of the 1947-48 and 1948-49 seasons, but the team was routed both times by the Toronto Maple Leafs, who swept both titles.