Hall of Fame defenseman Harry Howell, known for his durability and toughness, has died. He was 86.
Former New York Rangers Harry Howell (R) and Andy Bathgate (L) smile after their numbers were raised to the rafters during a ceremony to retire their numbers at Madison Square Garden before the Rangers' NHL hockey game against the Toronto Maple Leafs in New York, February 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Howell had been battling dementia and was living at a long-term assisted care facility close to his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario. The Hamilton Spectator said Howell died late Saturday night.
The seven-time All-Star played in 1,411 games over 21 seasons (1952-73) and had 82 goals and 263 assists (345 points). Howell won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman for the 1966-67 season.
Howell was known as “Harry the Horse” due to his dependability, as he played in all 70 regular-season games in nine of his first 15 seasons with the New York Rangers. He played the first 17 seasons of his career for the Rangers.
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of legendary defenseman, consummate professional, and Hockey Hall of Famer Harry Howell,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement released Sunday. “He will be remembered not only for his consistency and leadership on the ice but the ultimate class with which he carried himself.”
Howell also played for Golden Seals’ franchise based in Oakland (1969-71) for 1 1/2 seasons before playing 2 1/2 seasons for the Los Angeles Kings (1971-73). He then played three seasons in the World Hockey Association, serving as player/coach for New York- New Jersey (1973-74) and San Diego (1974-75) before playing one final season for Calgary (1975-76).
Howell was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979. The Rangers retired Howell’s No. 3 in 2009.
“One of the most iconic players in franchise history, Harry’s Hall of Fame accomplishments on the ice were exceeded only by the tremendous gentleman he was off the ice,” Rangers president Glen Sather said in a statement. “I was privileged to have worked with Harry for over a decade in both Edmonton and New York and treasure our memories together.”
Howell had an 11-game coaching stint for the Minnesota North Stars — the club went 3-6-2 — in 1978-79. He also spent time as a scout, including a stint with Edmonton during Sather’s time with that franchise before later serving in the same role under Sather with the Rangers.