Mark Steven Howe (born May 28 1955, in Detroit, Michigan) is a retired American professional ice hockey defenseman who played 16 seasons in the National Hockey League and 6 seasons in the World Hockey Association. He is the son of Mr. Hockey, NHL and WHA legend Gordie Howe. Despite the enormous shadow cast by his father and splitting time between two leagues, Mark shone as one of the best two-way defensemen of the 1980s, being a three time runner-up for the Norris Trophy and twice making the Stanley Cup finals. He is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame
By the 1976-77 season, Howe was a full-time defenseman. Before the 1977-1978 season, the Howes moved their family act to Hartford, Connecticut to play for the New England Whalers.
When the NHL and WHA merged in 1979, one of the four WHA teams left standing were the Whalers. They changed their name to the Hartford Whalers and Mark Howe, his father and his brother continued one more season together, this time in the National Hockey League. The 1980-81 season proved to be one of Howe's best. Howe was a mid-season All-Star, and in the fall, he appeared for the US national team at the 1981 Canada Cup tournament. He would also play in the 1984 and 1987 tournaments.
Howe was involved in one of the more memorable injuries in NHL history. He slid into the pointed metal center of the net and cut a five inch gash in his upper thigh. He was essentially impaled by the metal, and the injury, which nearly ended his career, prompted the NHL to change the design of its nets so that there would no longer be a center portion that jutted up toward the goal line. He lost 35 pounds and his stamina suffered after requiring liquid diet to avoid intenstinal infections. Howe became damaged goods in the eyes of the Whalers management, so they moved Howe, in a 4 player deal that also involved draft picks, to Philadelphia.
As a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, his career took off. The backbone of one of the NHL's best defensive teams of the mid 1980s, he was a finalist for the Norris Trophy 3 times in 1982-83, 1985-86 and 1986-87 season. His Philadelphia team, backstopped by Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Pelle Lindbergh, finished the 1984-85 season with most points and earned a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to the Edmonton Oilers dynasty, which featured stars such as Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Mark Messier.
Howe had his best season during the 1985-86 season where he posted some of the best numbers ever by an NHL defenseman. He scored 24 goals, added 58 assists for 82 total points. He led the NHL with a remarkable +85. He also added 7 shorthanded goals while being the lifeline out of the Flyers defensive zone with his outstanding skating & passing ability. Unfortunately for Howe, Edmonton's Paul Coffey had perhaps one of the best seasons by a defenseman in NHL history, breaking Bobby Orr's single-season records for goals and tallying 138 points. Howe, for the second time, finished 2nd in Norris Trophy voting.
The 1986-87 season brought great success to both Howe and his Philadelphia Flyers teammates. The Flyers, for the 3rd consecutive season, led the Prince of Wales Conference in points. Led by Howe, rookie netminder Ron Hextall, and a line featuring Brian Propp, Rick Tocchet and Pelle Eklund, the injury-riddled Flyers took the vaunted Edmonton Oilers to 7 games in the NHL Finals before succumbing 3-1 in the finale.
Howe, having struggled with both knee & back injuries, became a part-time player virtually the rest of his career. The decline in his games played coincided with the Flyers decline in play overall. It was no mystery to anyone watching the Flyers on a regular basis from the years 1988-91 why the team struggled. When Howe was in the lineup, the Flyers looked like a playoff team. Without him, they looked disorganized in their own end.
After the 1991-92 season, the Flyers granted Howe free agency so he could win the as-of-yet elusive Stanley Cup. He signed with the Detroit Red Wings, the team with which his dad had starred. The signing was a popular one in Detroit, as Mark was "returning home" to help build the Wings into a consistent playoff contender. He became a steadying influence on Detroit's young corps of defensemen, mostly notably Nicklas Lidström. He would have one more appearance in the Stanley Cup finals, but his Red Wings were swept in 1995 by the New Jersey Devils.
Mark Howe was elected to Philadelphia Flyers Hall of Fame in 2001 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. As of 2008, he has not yet been inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Currently, Howe serves in the Red Wings front office as Chief Pro scout. He makes his offseason home in the Philadelphia suburbs. Mark's son, Travis Howe, now works in hockey scouting and coaching.