For those of us with a great passion for sports, we tend to only care about the athlete with the uniform on. It makes sense – we revere the athlete who lives the dream life while millions adore their work on the field/ice/court/track/etc. In Detroit, our community treats its athletes more like neighbors and friends, since they are in many cases. While we flock to our favorite sporting venues to check out some of the world’s greatest athletes in action – there are often spouses and loved ones holding their breath if this game will be their last.
On a personal note, I was saddened the other night to hear that Colleen Joffa Howe had passed away following a long battle with Pick’s disease. I had first seen her impact on Mr. Hockey in the early 90’s during a local function in Southfield. Wherever Gordie went, Colleen was right by his side, often acting as a protector from unwarranted nuisances at the event. I was fortunate to have a few moments to speak with them both, often noticing Colleen’s right eye wandering to see who was approaching her husband. She was extremely protective of her husband and his legacy.
Last year, a number of local papers reported an extortion attempt made on Gordie’s estate, a clear sign that something wasn’t right. Players are frequently targets of fans of all types, and this attempt was not the first of its kind – nor will it be the last without Mrs. Hockey to safeguard the legacy of no. 9.