NEW YORK -- James McCann never met Gordie Howe, but he knows the impact the Detroit legend, nicknamed "Mr. Hockey," had on the area. So after learning of the former Red Wing's death while scrolling through his phone Friday morning, McCann instantly drew a comparison to another influential sports figure.
"I thought of Muhammad Ali," McCann said while gazing at a television in the Yankee Stadium visitor's clubhouse broadcasting Ali's funeral. "[Howe] was one of the greats."
Ali's death last week sparked an outpouring of stories and tributes, and Howe's death will likely bring the same in Detroit. Howe, who was 88, helped bring four Stanley Cups to the Red Wings and befriended Tigers icon Al Kaline.
Left-hander Matt Boyd's ears perked up when he heard someone in the clubhouse mention Howe. Boyd, who grew up a big hockey fan in Washington, said he idolized Howe.
"Being a young guy, aspiring to be great in every sport you're in, you see someone that's great," Boyd said. "He's just a legend. … I never saw him play, but you hear about these guys and how great they were."
Joshua Needelman is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.