New York (AFP) – Hockey Hall of Famer Harry Howell, who was the last to win the Norris Trophy as NHL’s top defenceman before the Bobby Orr era began, has died. He was 86.
Canada’s Howell spent 17 years on the New York Rangers‘ blue line from 1953 to 1969.
“One of the most iconic players in franchise history, Harry’s Hall of Fame accomplishments on the ice were exceeded only by the tremendous gentleman he was off the ice,” said Rangers president Glen Sather.
“I was privileged to have worked with Harry for over a decade in both Edmonton and New York and treasure our memories together.”
Howell competed in an era where the role of the defenceman changed from a conservative stay-at-home blueliner to an attacking force that provided support for the forwards and scored the odd goal when needed. Boston Bruins slick-skating Orr had plenty to do with that transformation.
A seven-time all-star, Howell won the Norris Trophy in 1967 and Orr won it the next eight straight seasons.
Howell played almost 20 seasons with the Rangers before joining the Oakland Seals when the league expanded to 12 teams. He also had a stint with the Los Angeles Kings and played for the Jersey Knights and San Diego Mariners of the upstart World Hockey Association.
Howell appeared in 1,411 career NHL games, scoring 94 goals and adding 324 assists.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.