The hockey world lost a legend today as Dale Hawerchuk died at age 57 after a battle with cancer
The Toronto native was a Winnipeg Jets all-time great who also enjoyed success with the Buffalo Sabres, plus had stints with the St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman described Hawerchuk as “one of the most decorated players in our game’s history.”
With that in mind, here’s a look back at some of Hawerchuk’s most notable accomplishments throughout his incredible career.
A remarkable time in junior
Hawerchuk’s two-year stint with the Cornwall Royals in the QMJHL was nothing short of spectacular. As a 16-year-old rookie during the 1979-80 season he scored 37 goals and 103 points in 72 games en route to winning the RDS Cup as the league’s rookie of the year. He upped the ante that post-season, scoring 20 times and adding 25 assists in just 18 games as he helped lead his team to a championship.
He took home the Guy Lafleur Trophy as QMJHL playoff MVP before the Royals went on to win the Memorial Cup, where Hawerchuk was named a First Team All-Star and won the George Parsons Trophy for sportsmanship.
The skilled centre took his game to new heights the following year. He won the Jean Beliveau Trophy as QMJHL scoring champion after posting a whopping 81 goals and 183 points in 72 games. The Royals repeated as QMJHL champs and Hawerchuk won the Michel Brière Memorial Trophy as QMJHL player of the year. His team also won a second consecutive Memorial Cup and he earned the Stafford Smythe Memorial Trophy as Memorial Cup MVP.
He was also named CHL player of the year, and all that led to him being the No. 1-overall selection in the 1981 NHL Draft.
Hawerchuk had an impact at the junior level later in life, too, as he transitioned to coaching with the OHL’s Barrie Colts, where he helped develop a new generation of players.
An elite NHL talent
It was instantly apparent Hawerchuk was poised to be a star in the big show. As an 18-year-old with the Jets he led all NHL rookies with 45 goals and 103 points and won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1982 as top rookie, beating out the likes of future Hall of Famers Grant Fuhr, Ron Francis and Joe Mullen. Hawerchuk was so impressive in his first NHL season he finished fifth in Hart Trophy voting behind legends Wayne Gretzky, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy and Peter Stastny.
Hawerchuk scored more than 100 points in six of his first seven NHL seasons and developed a reputation as a reliable iron man, missing only one game during that stretch.
Although the Calder was the only major NHL award Hawerchuk won, he finished as the Hart Trophy runner-up for the 1984-85 season. That year he posted a career-high 53 goals and 130 points but Gretzky ran away with the Hart thanks to a 208-point campaign.
Hawerchuk was traded to the Buffalo Sabres prior to the 1990-91 season and he continued producing at a high level until injuries interrupted his lockout-shortened 1994-95 season.
In fact, from the time he debuted in 1981 through to the end of the 1993-94 season, Hawerchuk’s 1,032 games played were the most in the league and his 1,298 points were second-most behind Gretzky. He had 10 seasons with 90 or more points, which is tied for the fourth-most 90-point seasons ever.
Hawerchuk was the first player in NHL history to suit up for his 1,000th game before his 31st birthday.
Hawerchuk, who played in five all-star games, finished his NHL career with 518 goals (38th all-time), 891 assists (21st all-time) for 1,409 points (20th all-time) in 1,188 games and added 99 points in 97 career playoff games.
He is one of 13 first-overall picks to record more than 1,000 points — ranking third behind Mario Lemieux (1,723) and Joe Thornton (1,509) — and one of eight No. 1 picks to surpass 500 career goals.
Hawerchuk set numerous franchise records in Winnipeg, had his No. 10 jersey retired by the Jets/Coyotes in 2007 and was inducted into the franchise’s Ring of Honour. Even though he only played five seasons in Buffalo he was inducted into the Sabres Hall of Fame in 2011.
A frequent member of Team Canada
Not only did Hawerchuk excel in junior and the pros, he also had an accomplished international career. He led Canada with nine points in five games at the 1981 world juniors, although that team failed to medal. Hawerchuk won bronze medals at the world hockey championships in 1982 and 1986 and then a silver in 1989, when he was one of the team captains.
Most notably, Hawerchuk was a member of the Canada Cup-winning teams in both 1987 and 1991 scoring 11 points in those tournaments.
Hawerchuk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 alongside contemporaries Jari Kurri, Mike Gartner and Viacheslav Fetisov.