Over his legendary 26-year career, Gordie Howe’s breathtaking performances on the ice bonded generations of hockey fans. Now his name will bridge the two nations he lived in and entertained for years.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Michigan Governor Rick Snyder today announced that the new $2 billion second crossing at Detroit-Windsor will be named the Gordie Howe International Bridge, after the famous Detroit Red Wings’ number 9.
The idea for naming the bridge after the Canadian Hall of Fame legend has been bandied about for several years since it was first suggested by Ontario Trucking Association President David Bradley at a hearing in Lansing in 2010 – something that was acknowledge today in several media outlets including the Detroit Free Press and the local CBS affiliate, among others.
“It came straight to mind because what other name is there that unites Canada and the U.S, and specifically the Windsor-Detroit region?” said Bradley, who is also an ardent hockey fan. “This announcement is about bonding and partnership between our two great nations and Gordie Howe, who has a deep love for Canada as well as the people of Detroit, is a perfect symbol for the enduring strength of Canada-US relations.”
Besides, he adds, “I felt at the time that we were never going to be able to politically sell something called the DRIC or the NITC.”
Bradley’s proposition generated a few smiles when it was first mentioned but picked up momentum after Gordie’s son, Marty Howe, heard about it and supported the idea. He agreed the name is symbolic of his father having “crossed the bridge” from Canada to spend his NHL career in Detroit. (The family’s roots are also dug in Windsor, which is where Howe’s mother landed upon arriving to Canada from Germany). It wasn’t long before Canadian and U.S. legislators began working to make the name a reality throughout the long, arduous process of getting the public bridge approved
Prime Minister Harper called the legendary winger – whose elbows were almost as famous as his namesake hat trick – “a national hero and legend” and “an idol for generations of people in Detroit and Michigan” and beyond.
“It makes my day to think I might have had some small role in all of this,” says Bradley. “It surely didn’t take a genius to come up with the idea; I was just fortunate enough to be part of the lobbying effort for the second crossing and therefore having the opportunity and platform to suggest it.”
He added: “I was told at the time not to get my hopes up – that the naming of something like a bridge is very political and it’s an honour not often bestowed on living beings – so I am thrilled for Gordie and his family that it all worked out,” he said. “The Prime Minister and the Governor, both of whom have been such great champions of the second crossing, certainly made the right call in my view.”
Howe, 87, is currently recovering from a series of strokes he suffered over the winter.