Dale Hawerchuk’s NHL career spanned 16 amazing seasons, nine of which were spent as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. He also laced up his skates in the second half of his career as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, the St. Louis Blues and then finally the Philadelphia Flyers en route to his final hockey destination, the Hall of Fame in Toronto where he was inducted as a member in 2001.
But it’s his time as a Winnipeg Jet where he achieved some of his greatest accomplishments and created so many lasting memories for Winnipeg hockey fans. Tonight, the Jets will honour the man affectionately known as “Ducky” by making him the second inductee into the Jets Hall of Fame.
In 1980, when the Jets selected Dale Hawerchuk first overall in the NHL draft, they knew that they had drafted a special hockey talent, giving him a full ceremony on Portage & Main where he was driven to the location in a Brinks armoured truck and publicly signed his first pro contract.
The Jets, Winnipeg hockey fans and indeed the entire hockey world could not have expected just what kind of impact he would have had though as he set the league on fire scoring 45 goals, 103 points (becoming the youngest player ever to hit that mark) and helping the Jets improve by 48 points in the standings and led to the club’s first ever NHL playoff appearance. He was a runaway winner for that year’s Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie and played in his first of five all-star games.
From that point on, such offensive exploits became commonplace for Hawerchuk who ended up racking up 379 goals and 929 points as a member of the Jets. He was an NHL second-team all-star in the 1984-85 season and was runner-up for league MVP to Wayne Gretzky, In his first seven seasons as a pro he only missed one game and in his nine seasons with the Jets, his club only missed the playoffs once.
He led the Jets in scoring all nine seasons he was with the team, he was the first Jet to ever score 50 goals in a season. In 1987 he was instrumental in helping win the Canada Cup as it was his faceoff win that sparked the breakout that led to the very famous game and Cup winning goal.
And through it all, he was a quiet, humble young man who prefered to live a quiet life outside the city limits of Winnipeg and let his play on the ice do all the talking.
He was “Mr. Winnipeg Jet” and was every bit what a franchise player was and should be.
Last week, we asked you to share your memories, your meetings and your favourite moments involving Dale Hawerchuk who since the return of NHL hockey to Winnipeg, even as he still remains the head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts, has become an ambassador for the team and the city proper.
Yes, got him to sign some stuff for me in the spring ! Very accommodating !! pic.twitter.com/HZ6XjVFlIP
— thesawch (@thesawch) November 9, 2017
What a great guy! Met Hawerchuk last season (he was here for the Limited Bud Cans that him and @TeemuSel8nne autographed), met him on the Mezzanine Level as he was leaving the Boxes. Stopped and asked if we could get a picture, he was very accomidating. pic.twitter.com/1a9ZwpA3pJ
— Bart Omand (@ywgjetsfan) November 9, 2017
We’re both born April 4, and here’s a rare piece of memorabilia and a chance meeting in a suite! pic.twitter.com/03PThkvBf7
— Derek (@derekethier2484) November 14, 2017
— Derek (@derekethier2484) November 14, 2017
Used to work at a local hotel bar. Someone said that Ducky and Shania were in the lobby. Didn’t care about Ms. Twain, but had to know if it was him. It sure was him and he was such a nice person. Poured him a beer and asked him to sign a Jets chair we had. Great guy!
— Stew S. (@stewsquared) November 9, 2017
I had him sign a special Portage&Main themed bottle of beer opposite side of Bobby Hull. Gave thfm each their own bottle ???
— Don Muir (@muirskijetguy) November 13, 2017
Dale golfed with my dad when he was BMO manager in Neepawa. Dale gave him some autographed merch for me. Dad was impressed with how mice and easy going Dale was.
— Mark Carnduff (@carnduffmc) November 9, 2017
A little faded but have one of these signed by @DaleHawerchuk10 Also have a stick from him but that signature has also faded away 🙁 I should have taken better care of these….. pic.twitter.com/hL9PnmVmCp
— Bernardo (@Benny27M) November 10, 2017
Continuing to help the Jets
Of course, in 2011 when the newly moved (and yet to be named as such) Jets had a decision to make in the entry draft, “Mr. Winnipeg Jet” helped the team with yet one more big time score which has become as an important memory for current day Jets fans as any of the ones that Jets 1.0 fans had of the man…
That time he sold the Jets on drafting Scheifele
— Buffingtian McMoose (@Buffs_Buffet) November 9, 2017