Henry Vernon Howell, known by everybody as Harry, had played more games than any defenseman in major-league hockey history by the time he retired, though he never won the Stanley Cup. Howell played in a total of 1,581 contests, 1,411 in the NHL and 170 in the World Hockey Association. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1932, Howell was known as a dedicated, dependable player on the ice and a classy guy off it.
Howell started playing junior hockey for the Guelph Biltmores and his professional career began in 1952 with the New York Rangers. He quickly gained a reputation as a durable, dependable "iron man" and, amazingly, missed only 17 games in his first 16 seasons as a Ranger. Howell's best season was in 1966-67 when he won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman.
In 1969 Howell was sold to the Oakland Seals for his defence, but he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in February of 1971 and played there until the end of the 1973 season. He then moved over to the WHA to play for the San Diego, New Jersey and Calgary franchises and in 1975 he retired from hockey in 1975 after playing a final 31 games.
After his retirement, Howell moved to a front-office position as assistant general manager with the Cleveland Barons in 1976. He later moved up to become a full-fledged general manager with Cleveland until they merged with the Minnesota North Stars in 1978. Howell continued to coach the Stars in 1978-79 for 17 games and he later became the team's chief scout.
Howell's biggest thrill were the Harry Howell Night celebrations held in Madison Square Garden on January 25, 1967. On that night, fans and businesses in New York and in Howell's home town showered him with gifts, including engraved watches, a new car, trips to resorts, a gas barbecue, a box of cigars, a seven-foot artificial Christmas tree and a year's supply of cheese.
Howell was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979.