My grandmother worked at the hospital where the Red Wings got treatment and she loved Gordie Howe, who was quite the kidder with staff. So we took her to a WHA game when Gordie made his comeback. These young guys kept trying to run him and he would calmly sidestep hits and go where he wanted to go.
There were a lot of stories about his insane farmboy strength. Teammates would find ways to test that strength -- pick up that, carry that -- and he would do crazy things without a sweat.
Check out this passage from a 1963 magazine article:
“He’s always at the outer edge of the rulebook anyway,” says Eric Nesterenko of the Chicago Black Hawks, a veteran who has played frequently against Howe man-on-man. “You never know when he's going to slip over into what's dirty.” Ted Lindsay, who was Howe's linemate with Detroit for a dozen years and his opponent with Chicago for three more, says, “Gordie gets away with more than anyone else in hockey.” Andy Bathgate, the New York Ranger star who was fined by the league in 1960 for writing an article called “Atrocities on Ice,” for True magazine, has accused Howe of deliberately inflicting head cuts, of deliberately cauliflowering at least one ear, and of deliberately raising the puck at other people’s heads. About the only crimes Howe is not generally accused of are the heinous ones of “spearing” — the art of jabbing the business end of a hockey stick into an onrushing opponent's unpadded belly — and “butt-ending.” another manoeuvre with a stick that takes place in flurries around the goal mouth or in the corners. He is a recognized master of “high sticking,” an action that is almost impossible for the fans or even the referees to separate from an accident, and which has carved his signature on a good many faces around the league."