Gordie Howe scored 801 goals in his NHL career and is considered one of the best players of all time.
PHOTO: Rick Stewart/Allsport/Getty Images
Gordie Howe scored 801 goals in his NHL career and is considered one of the best players of all time.

Story highlights

Gordie Howe is recovering at his daughter's home in Lubbock, Texas

He had a stroke that has affected him on his right side

Gordie Howe was a six-time Most Valuable Player in the NHL

Howe, known as "Mr. Hockey," scored 975 goals in his professional hockey career

(CNN) —  

Hockey great Gordie Howe, who suffered a “significant” stroke Sunday morning, is showing signs of improvement, his family said Wednesday in a written statement.

Howe suffered the stroke while at his daughter’s home in Lubbock, Texas. He has returned there while he recovers and is described as in guarded condition.

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

On Tuesday, one of Howe’s sons told CNN the stroke affected his father’s entire right side. Marty Howe said family members were on their way to Texas to visit with their father.

The family said well-wishers could send cards to: Gordie Howe, c/o Texas Trailer Corral, 2207 Hwy 87, Lubbock, TX 79423.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Gordie and the Howe family. Get well soon, Mr. Hockey,” the Detroit Red Wings tweeted Tuesday.

Howe, 86, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. He was a member of four Stanley Cup champion teams with the Red Wings and was the NHL’s Most Valuable Player six times.

He scored 801 goals in his 26 years in two stints in the league. In between, he also played six seasons in the World Hockey Association and added 174 more goals.

The Detroit News reported that Howe had spinal surgery during the summer, according to another son, Dr. Murray Howe. But the son said Howe had been doing well in the months since the surgery and told the newspaper that Howe had been walking a mile a day pain free.

“So we helped him with one problem,” Murray Howe, a radiologist in Ohio, told the News. “But this one is a little bit tougher to fight.”

Many lists of the greatest hockey players of all time put Howe as the third best player, behind Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr.

CNN’s Jill Martin and Kevin Dotson contributed to this report.