The naked tooth: Inside Red Wings' dental work

Sixty-two years ago, in the first game he played for the Red Wings, Gordie Howe lost his two front teeth. The "biters" is what he called them.

Howe scored a goal that game, but the memory of getting "whacked somewhere in front" of the net, he said, never left him. It contributed to Howe's elbows-up style in his three decades as a pro, sparking an infamous line in hockey lore:

"As I used to say, 'It's better to give than to receive,' " Howe said.

Now he adds with a wink: "You become very protective after that."

Howe, 80, was standing within earshot of a recent Wings practice at Joe Louis Arena, where pucks sounded like shotgun blasts as they ricocheted off the glass.

Some things never change.

"You hate to say it's 'part of the game,' but players, well, we're bound to lose a few teeth," he said with a smile.

Read the rest on the Detroit Free Press Web Site


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