New York Rangers legend Harry Howell has died at age 86. He was a member of the Rangers for 17 seasons and he appeared in 1,160 games tallying 345 points. Howell made his NHL debut at age 19 on October 18, 1952, and scored a goal in his very first game.
He was primarily a defensive defenseman, but he did eclipse 30 points three times, including a 40-point campaign when he won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defender during the 1966-67 season at age 34. At the time of winning the award, Howell became the fourth oldest player to win the trophy. Doug Harvey of the Montreal Canadiens won the award from 1959-60 to 1961-62 as a 35, 36 and 37-year-old.
Howell is the Rangers’ all-time leader in games played with 1,160, and he’s likely to hold that spot for a long time, if not forever. He only missed 40 games with the Blueshirts, and was known for his toughness and durability. Henrik Lundqvist is the active leader in games played at 851, and he’d need 310 more games to pass that mark which is unlikely to happen.
After leaving the Rangers, Howell was a member of the Oakland — and then California — Golden Seals, and the Los Angeles Kings. He also skated in the WHA with the New York Golden Blades/New Jersey Knights, the San Diego Mariners, and Calgary Cowboys.
Howell was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 in recognition of what he accomplished during his NHL career. This includes his aforementioned Norris Trophy, six All-Star game selections and one NHL First All-Star team selection in 1966-67.
With the Rangers he was also awarded the Frank Boucher trophy three times, an award given to the Ranger “who is considered the most popular player on and off the ice” as chosen by the Rangers Fan Club.
On February 22, 2009, the Rangers retired Howell’s No. 3 along with his long-time teammate Andy Bathgate who wore No. 9.
During the ceremony Howell talked about his tenure with the Rangers and via The Canadian Press he said, “No matter wherever else I played, I always said that I played in New York for the New York Rangers.” It was a great night for the duo, and in the words of Sam Rosen an event “57 years in the making.”
Howell was a native of Hamilton, Ontario, and he’s widely considered the best player from the area. In 2014, Howell had the distinct honor of having a Canada Post stamp bear his likeness, and he had a local hockey rink renamed in his honor.
In 2017, the Hamilton Bulldogs of the OHL renamed their annual academic scholarship in honor of Howell.
The Hamilton Spectator wrote a wonderful tribute to his life on and off the ice, and I suggest you check it out to learn more about a truly incredible person.
Blueshirt Banter, wishes the Howell family and those who were close to Howell our deepest condolences for their loss.