The Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk wondered aloud what kind of pressure one LeBron James, Jr. would face if he were to make the NBA and play alongside his father, so he asked the son of the world’s most famous hockey player about the pros and cons of playing alongside one’s father:
“I tell people, the couple of negatives of being Gordie Howe’s son, they were harsh, they were hard,” Mark said. “But they’re mostly internal things.”
Speaking of internal things, Mark Howe said being the offspring of one of the great players in the game’s history — a mythical figure who owned a good portion of the NHL record book before an admirer named Wayne Gretzky arrived to rewrite things — could occasionally make you question your worthiness. There was only one Gordie Howe, sure, but both of his professional-playing sons had to wear a sweater bearing his surname.
“You’re always being compared,” Mark said. “I remember my mom sat me down and said, ‘The only person you need to measure yourself by is yourself. You set your own expectations.’ And that was my mindset for many years. I was bound and determined to make it to pro hockey whether my name was Smith, Jones, Howe, James, whatever the heck it was.”
There were undeniable upsides: “A billion of ’em,” Mark estimates. On weekends when the Red Wings were on the road, the staff at Detroit’s Olympia arena would allow Mark to skate on the Red Wings’ home ice by himself for most of the day; he’d take a break for a lunch of hot dogs and popcorn served by a concession-stand attendee named Jesse. At age 14, Mark was invited to participate in Red Wings training camp for a few days. As an unusually large kid, about five-foot-11 and 180 pounds at the time, the story goes that he held his own.
“Who else had those opportunities?” he said.