October 29, 2014 / 1:28 AM / 4 years ago

Hockey great Gordie Howe showing signs of improvement: family

NHL Hall of Fame legend Gordie Howe waves as he enters the rink for a ceremony honoring his son, Philadelphia Flyers' NHL Hall of Fame defenseman, Mark before the start of the Flyers versus the Detroit Red Wings NHL ice hockey game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania March 6, 2012. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

(Reuters) - Gordie Howe, a Hall of Famer known to many as “Mr. Hockey,” is showing signs of improvement after suffering a stroke that left him without some function on one side of his body, his family said on Wednesday.

The 86-year-old Howe, who spent the bulk of his career with the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings, suffered what the family called a “significant stroke” while at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas, on Sunday.

“His condition remains guarded, although he is showing some signs of improvement,” Howe’s family said in a statement released by the Red Wings.

“We acknowledge that there is a long road to recovery ahead, but Dad’s spirits are good and his competitive attitude remains strong.”

Howe, a 23-time All-Star who led Detroit to four Stanley Cup championships, retired in 1980 as the NHL’s leader in career goals and points, both records later broken by fellow Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky.

The Canadian still owns several NHL records, including the most consecutive 20-goal seasons (22), most regular season games played (1,767) and most regular season goals (801) and points (1,850) by a right winger. His is also the only person to play in the NHL after turning 50.

Reporting by Alicia Keene in Lubbock, Texas; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mohammad Zargham

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