Red Wings players, coaches remember Gordie Howe at visitation - WNEM TV 5

Red Wings players, coaches remember Gordie Howe at visitation

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(AP Photo/File). FILE (AP Photo/File). FILE

People from across Michigan and beyond were in Detroit on Tuesday to honor former Red Wings legend Gordie Howe.

He died Friday at the age off 88.

There was a public visitation held at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Tuesday.

"Gordie Howe was larger than life and I think that makes it hard to summarize it in words, but the neat thing though is listening to the stories. He was a great family person who, when he stepped on the ice was probably something that will never be replaced, but off the ice he was a real humble person who connected with a lot of people," said Jeff Blashill, Red Wings head coach.

"Wherever I go, whether it's anywhere in the world and people talk about the Red Wings they talk about Gordie Howe, they really do. People from Gordie's generation, how they got into hockey and why they came Red Wings fans was mainly because of Gordie Howe," said Steve Yzerman, Red Wings great.

"I was actually getting a picture with my son and probably one of our greatest photobombs ever, Gordie Howe came in and gave my son the flying elbow and my wife has a great picture of it. That's just Gordie. He was unreal," said Kris Draper, former Red Wings player.

"We replace athletes overtime. In 10 years another athlete comes along or another great hockey player comes along, but you don't replace iconic people and Gordie was a special man and you don't replace that," said Wayne Gretzky, NHL hall of famer.

Howe's impact reached far beyond a single sport.

"Everybody knows how great of a hockey player he was, maybe the greatest hockey player of all time. But what got me was how great he was off the ice around people, around kids. He never turned people down. He was always friendly to them and that to me is why the people in Detroit and the people in hockey everywhere loved Gordie Howe," said Al Kaline, Detroit Tigers great.

Ryan Schaff, originally from Midland but now living in Arizona, flew from Phoenix to attend the visitation.

"I wouldn't miss it for the world. Gordie Howe was my idol, my inspiration. He was my everything. Words can't even describe the appreciation I have for them and the family for allowing someone like me to come across the country and really be able to pay my respects to Gordie in the right way and to send him off," Schaff said.

Gretzky was honored to be apart of the procession.

"It was one of the great honors of my life. He was everything to me. He was like a second father. He was a mentor. We had a lot of time for each other," Gretzky said.

The funeral service will be held at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit at 11 a.m. It is open to the public.

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