Howe Exciting!

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 in Blog, Career Highlights | No Comments

On March 6, 2012 the Philadelphia the Flyers will be retiring former Flyer defenseman Mark Howe’s number 2 prior to the game against the Detroit Red Wings. This is something the Flyers have not done since 1990 and Mark will also be the first player to receive such an honor who was not a member of the Flyer’s infamous “Broad Street Bullies” team.

First let me say it is very well deserved and long overdue. As happy as I am to see Mark’s number retired, I also have to ask, what took so long? Anyone like myself, who watched Mark play back in the 1980’s knows what a great player he was. He played ten seasons with the Flyers from 1981 – 1992 and was the cornerstone of their defense which was often tops in the league during that time. Mark was a five time NHL All Star and helped lead his team to the Stanley Cup Finals twice. In 929 games he racked up 197 Goals, 545 assists for 742 points all as a defenseman. In 2011 Mark was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame.Mark Howe by David E. Wilkinson

He was also one of the greatest two way players in the game who seemed to be as skilled an offensive player as he was a defensive player. There were times where there was no doubt that he was NHL Hall of Fame legend Gordie Howe’s son.

Back in September I was in contact with the Flyers front office regarding the possibility of their commissioning my work in the 2011-2012 season. They had mentioned a number of events including a “possible jersey retirement in the spring” as they vaguely put it.

In the weeks leading up to the event, I was told that a decision had not yet been made as to what kind of gift they were planning on presenting to Mark. While I was holding out hope for my first official commission from the team, I thought to myself what a great gesture it would be to present his Father Gordie Howe with a portrait as well. This one on my behalf.

I am always looking for a new subject to do and who better that Gordie Howe? For those of you who do not know who he is or what he accomplished, you can read about him here. In short he is arguably the greatest player ever to play the game and was idolized by the likes of Wayne Gretzky who is about the only one who you could argue was better.

Unfortunately the Flyers decided to go another route as far as their gift for Mark but my story does have a happy ending. When the decision was made, despite the fact that I was already overloaded with paying work and the insanely short amount of time I had at that point, I decided to take it upon myself to also create a portrait of Mark. Somehow I managed to get it done while not missing any of my other deadlines. I worked for my clients by day, ate dinner and then worked till midnight or so on my painting for Mark.

"Mr. Hockey" by David E. Wilklinson

The people in the Flyers front office were very nice and did offer to “pass it along” on my behalf but if I am going to take the time, effort and cost to do this, I would prefer to present them personally.

Before the painting was even complete, I contacted my friend Brian Propp and filled him in. As always, Propper was generous and nice enough to pass along my info to Mark. Likewise, without even seeing what I had done and with Brian’s endorsement, Mark was nice enough not only to meet me where I could present my paintings to both he and his father in person but invited me to his home to do so.

What an honor it was to not only be invited into his home but to be able to spend time talking with Mark and a legend like Gordie Howe was just a dream come true. I even got to meet Gordie’s dog “Rocket” who he named after NHL legend Maurice “the rocket” Richard.

Although initially I would have preferred to have been able to do this on an official basis for the Flyers, in the end I am not sure I would have traded it for this experience which was on a much more personal level.

I want to deeply thank the Howe family for taking the time out of their Saturday afternoon to meet with me and generously inviting me into their home. I also want to thank Brian Propp for helping to set it all up.

Finally I want to thank my friends over at Works Design Group who are always there to print my canvases for me at a moment’s notice. For more information please visit their web site at:

Prints are currently available.

Year: 2012 Event: Social

Year: 2012
Event: Social


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