NHL’s 1st pick in ’81, Hall of Famer
Dale Hawerchuk, a hockey phenom who became the face of the Winnipeg Jets en route to the Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 57 after a battle with cancer.
The Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts, a team Mr. Hawerchuk coached, confirmed the death on Twitter on Tuesday.
“After an incredibly brave and difficult battle with cancer, our dad has passed away. My family is so proud of him and the way he fought. #HawerchukStrong,” Eric Hawerchuk, one of Dale’s sons, wrote on Twitter.
A teenage star, Mr. Hawerchuk was drafted first overall by the Jets in 1981. He went on to play nine seasons in Winnipeg and five in Buffalo before finishing up his distinguished 16-year NHL career with stints in St. Louis and Philadelphia.
Mr. Hawerchuk had 518 goals and 1,409 points in 1,188 regular-season games. He added 30 more goals and 99 assists in 97 playoff games.
“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.
At 5-feet-11 and 190 pounds, Mr. Hawerchuk wasn’t blessed with size or blistering speed. But the five-time All-Star had a knack of getting to loose pucks and then creating something out of nothing. Mr. Hawerchuk could breeze past opponents and knew what to do when he neared the goal.
Mr. Hawerchuk had been battling stomach cancer. In September 2019, he took a leave of absence from coaching the Colts to undergo chemotherapy treatment.
“For some reason the Lord put me in this kind of fight and I’m ready to fight it,” he told Canada’s TSN in October 2019. “I want to live to tell the story.”
Eric Hawerchuk said in July on Twitter that the cancer had returned after his dad completed chemotherapy in April.
Born April 4, 1963, in Toronto, Mr. Hawerchuk grew up in nearby Oshawa, getting his first pair of skates at age 2 and playing competitively at 4. He was the youngest player in NHL history to reach 100 points, a record broken by Sidney Crosby in 2006.