Dale Hawerchuk, a Hockey Hall of Famer who played 16 years in the NHL and is in the Jets/Coyotes Ring of Honor, has died.
Hawerchuk had been battling cancer for some time. He was 57.
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of Dale Hawerchuk, an instant and enduring star who captured the hearts of two hockey-loving cities, represented his country with class and distinction, and is one of the most decorated players in our game’s history,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement on Tuesday.
The Toronto native was the first overall pick in the 1981 draft and played for the Winnipeg Jets, the original Winnipeg NHL franchise that eventually moved to Arizona to become the Phoenix Coyotes. His rookie year in 1981-82 was only the Jets’ third season of existence, and it was their first year in the playoffs.
Hawerchuck played for Winnipeg for nine seasons but left the franchise seven years before it relocated. He played for the Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues after that. He ranks 38th in NHL history in goals with 518.
Hawerchuk also won two Memorial Cup titles, was a Memorial Cup MVP, Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year in 1980-81, won the Calder Trophy and earned Hart Trophy votes four times in his career. His six seasons as captain of the Jets are the third-most in Jets/Coyotes history behind only Keith Tkachuk (7) and Shane Doan (13).
Hawerchuk was inducted to the Coyotes Ring of Honor in 2007.
“A revered leader whose commitment to charitable causes was tireless, Hawerchuk also was a force on the world stage, playing a pivotal role for Canada in both of its 1987 and 1991 Canada Cup triumphs,” Bettman’s statement said. “Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001, Hawerchuk was in the midst of a similarly successful post-playing career as a coach and director of hockey operations of Barrie of the OHL when he became ill and was taken from us far too soon.”