Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Get Well Soon, Ducky

He's one of those guys who lives beyond his playing years in the city of Winnipeg. When we think all-time greatest Winnipeg Jets, names like Selanne, Numminen, and Wheeler come up, but no one - no matter their age or hockey fan level - forgets to include Dale Hawerchuk. The man was the city's first true NHL superstar, giving us a player who picked up the torch left behind when the WHA was absorbed by the NHL. He wowed crowds with his skill and speed, and was truly an all-star both on and off the ice. If there was a guy who deserved a Stanley Cup in his career, it might be Hawerchuk after battling the Gretzky and the Oilers and the loaded Calgary Flames teams throughout the 1980s. Hearing today's news makes me want a Stanley Cup less for Hawerchuk and wanting more for good news regarding the hockey legend.

The OHL's Barrie Colts, where Dale Hawerchuk is the head coach, announced today that Hawerchuk is taking a leave of absence for the entire hockey season for health reasons. No details were given about what health issues may be plaguing Hawerchuk, but it doesn't really matter. No one wants to hear that news about anyone, let alone a hockey hero to thousands in Winnipeg and many more outside the city.

"We are a tight and close family here and it's difficult to have to make announcements like this," team president Howie Campbell said in a statement. "Dale is facing some health issues and will be taking the time he needs to deal with that situation. Our best wishes and thoughts are with Dale and his family during this difficult time.

"All of us want to see Dale back as soon as possible and we look forward to that day."

The 56 year-old Hawerchuk is the longest-serving head coach in Barrie Colts history as he prepared to enter his tenth season behind the bench in Barrie. The Hockey Hall-of-Famer has led the Colts to the playoffs in six of nine seasons he's coached, winning the Central Division title four times, and has a 305-269-38 record as the Colts' head coach. Under his tutelage, players such as Mark Scheifele, Tanner Pearson, Kevin Labanc, Brendan Lemieux, and Andrei Svechnikov have been drafted into the NHL and seen success on their respective NHL clubs.

Whatever the health issue is or issues are, I want to wish Dale Hawerchuk nothing but good health and a quick recovery in the battle he's facing. The man is an icon in Winnipeg still, and his presence at Winnipeg Jets games and around the club always is celebrated by the team and fans alike. I would like nothing more than to celebrate a clean bill of health for Dale Hawerchuk more than anything else at this point in his career because he truly is one of the good people in the game.

Get well soon, Ducky. You have all of Manitoba pulling for you.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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