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Photo Credit: © Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Dale Hawerchuk: An Original Jets Legend

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.

YOUR MEMORIES

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.

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…