DETROIT — Gordie Howe could break a lobster claw with his fingers, one of his sons said, and make people melt with his kindness and humility.
With a nod to the two dominant personas of "Mr. Hockey," his family was joined by hundreds of friends and acquaintances Wednesday for a funeral service to bid farewell to one of the NHL's greatest players.
Hall of Fame players Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr, Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman, commissioner Gary Bettman and dozens of other current and past players, coaches and executives attended the public service, including fans decked out in Red Wings gear.
The rugged Hall of Famer died Friday at 88. Howe's brown casket adorned with red and white roses was guided in and out of at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament by nine family members.
Murray Howe, one of Gordie and late wife Colleen's four children (also sons Mark, a Hall of Fame forward, and Marty, and daughter Cathy), began the service with a tear- and laugh-provoking eulogy emphasizing his father's toughness and generosity.
"I never heard him complain about anything, ever," Murray said. "The downside to that was, as kids, we were never allowed to complain about anything. So if we lamented about raking for four hours straight outside, he'd just bring out his miniature, invisible violin and go, 'So sorry for you.' Stopped us whining in our tracks.
"He was eternally positive. He always had a smile on his face and a song on his lips. … He accepted everyone for who they were, unless they were a boy with long hair. Then they got a lecture."
Murray Howe has said his father's remains will be cremated.
Thousands salute Pens: A crowd Pittsburgh city officials estimated at 400,000 lined downtown streets, filled the floors of open parking garages, hung out of office windows and stood on top of buildings to cheer the Penguins during their Stanley Cup victory parade, three days after their clinching Game 6 win against the Sharks. "Well, the one thing I've learned is this is one crazy sports town," coach Mike Sullivan said.
Around the league: In their annual housecleaning to create salary cap space, the Blackhawks traded forwards Teuvo Teravainen, a member of the 2015 Cup-winning team and at age 21 considered one of the league's top young players, and Bryan Bickell to the Hurricanes for a second-round draft pick this year and a third-round pick in 2017. Chicago dumped the $4 million cap hit of Bickell, a member of Chicago's past three Cup-winning teams who spent most of this season in the AHL.