'Mr. Hockey' tale skates to screen


A movie based on the origins of the World Hockey Assn. and Gordie Howe's brief stint in the league is in the works.

Producers Howard and Karen Baldwin announced the project Monday night, when the Los Angeles Kings hosted the Detroit Red Wings, Howe's former team. It was the 60th anniversary of Howe's first NHL goal.

Howe, known as "Mr. Hockey," led Detroit to four Stanley Cup championships and scored 1,071 goals during a pro career that began in 1946.

The Baldwins will produce the movie with David E. Kelley ("Boston Legal" and "Ally McBeal"), who will oversee the script. Howe will be an executive producer, along with Mike Ilitch Jr., whose family owns the Red Wings.

"The World Hockey Assn. was part of my life growing up," Kelley said in a statement released Tuesday. "Gordie Howe has always been an idol, so this project has special meaning for me."

The film will focus on the 1973-74 WHA season, when at 44, Howe returned to pro hockey after two years in retirement and played on the same team as his sons, Mark and Marty. The elder Howe led the Houston Aeros to the championship and was named league MVP.

"I am really excited that this film has come to fruition," Howe said. "The thrill of playing with my two sons that first year in Houston could only be surpassed by telling the story on the big screen."

The Baldwins and Kelley worked together on the 1999 hockey movie "Mystery, Alaska," starring Russell Crowe.

Howard Baldwin owned the defunct Hartford Whalers for 17 years, including Howe's final three years with the NHL team, and later owned the Pittsburgh Penguins for eight years. Kelley's father, Jack, was GM and coach of the Whalers.