Mark Howe played 10 seasons for the Flyers and was the first Flyers defenseman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Howe was elected to Flyers Hall of Fame in 2001 and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003.
Mark Howe played minor hockey in his hometown of Detroit with the Tier II Junior Red Wings. In 1970-71, at the age of 15, he scored 107 points for the Wings to lead the entire Western Ontario Junior A circuit. A knee injury knocked him out for the first three months of the next season. When he regained his health, Howe decided to play with the U.S. national team, and in 1972 he helped the U.S. Olympic team win the silver medal at the Sapporo games.
As a youngster, Howe was allowed to watch his father practice and to attend training camp. When he was older, Mark was allowed to suit up for the occasional team scrimmage at the Olympia.
After a deal was worked out with the London Knights, Howe and his brother Marty joined the Toronto Marlboros of the OHA in 1972-73. In his only year of major junior hockey, he scored 104 points and then contributed four goals and four assists in three games to lead the Marlies to the Memorial Cup championship. For his yeoman's service, Mark was the recipient of the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as the tournament's outstanding player.
The Howe family made hockey history with the Houston Aeros of the WHA in 1973-74 when Gordie came out of retirement to play with his two sons on the same forward line. Mark scored his first professional goal 27 years to the day after his father tallied for the first time in a Detroit uniform. After a 38-goal output, Mark was presented the Lou Kaplan Trophy as the league's top rookie and placed on the Second All-Star Team. A few months later, he scored six points in seven games for the WHA's Canadian stars in the 1974 series versus the USSR.
In 1975 Mark led all playoff scorers with 10 goals and 22 points in 13 games while leading Houston to the Avco Cup. Because he was an extremely versatile player, coach Bill Dineen made good use of him on both forward and defense. One season Howe made the WHA mid-season All-Star squad at left wing. He played defense the second half of the year and excelled to the point that he ended up as one of the rearguards on the All-Star squad at the end of the season. In 1977-78, he joined the New England franchise and remained with it when it joined the NHL as the Hartford Whalers in 1979. Howe made the transition to the NHL with ease, scoring 80 points that season.
Among all his good fortune, Howe did experience one major setback that influenced the rest of his career. On December 27, 1980, he was seriously injured by one of the older style nets. During the game, Howe lost his balance when chasing a loose puck in his own zone and went feet first into the goal. His skates raised the goal posts off the ice, causing the elevated point at the center back to pierce him in the buttock, just missing the spinal column. This accident forced the NHL to install safer nets without sharp points and with magnetic fasteners that would allow the goal to become dislodged more easily. This injury hit him in the prime of his career, and when he didn't bounce back as quickly as hoped, the Whalers became a little anxious.
Howe was involved in a multi-player transaction in August 1982 that saw him end up in Philadelphia, where he became a fixture on one of the NHL's top clubs and twice recorded 20 goal seasons. The accident in Hartford curtailed his offensive capabilities to an extent, but nonetheless he remained a top player. His mobility and experience were key ingredients in the team's run to the finals against the triumphant Edmonton Oilers in 1985 and 1987. Howe was selected to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1983, 1986 and 1987.
In 1992 Howe lived out a childhood fantasy by signing as a free agent with his father's old team, the Detroit Red Wings. This also represented a chance for him to play on a potential Stanley Cup winner at this late stage in his career. He played parts of three seasons in Motown before retiring in 1995 due to recurring back problems.