Statue of Dale Hawerchuk unveiled before Jets preseason game Saturday

The Winnipeg Jets are honouring local hockey legend, Dale Hawerchuk with the unveiling of a new statue on Saturday.

It was unveiled at True North Square at 5:15 p.m., prior to the Jets’ preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Hawerchuk, a Hockey Hall of Fame player, and the Jets’ first-overall selection in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, died of stomach cancer in August 2020 at 57 years old.

He was one of the most iconic players to ever don a Winnipeg Jets jersey, according to event host Sara Orlesky.

“Over his nine seasons here,  he led the team in scoring each season — amassing an impressive 929 total points over 713 games,” she said.

Hawerchuk was more than his many accomplishments on the ice, he was also known for the type of person he was off the ice.

“A humble, kind, and approachable superstar,” said Orlesky “who in more recent years proved to be the perfect person to help bridge the gap between Winnipeg Jets past and present.”

He was a well-loved Jets alumni and he continues to mean a lot to those he crossed paths with.

“We as alumni, the guys that are here today, truly loved Dale and we know that he was very important to all of us.” said former Jet and current league executive Kris King.

A player’s impact on a community is really remembered by how he’s received by his team and the people where he plays, according to King.

“Dale was adored by the Jet’s staff and it’s because of the way he treated them – He treated them all like family,” he said.

Hawerchuk also had a big impact on fans and proudly called Winnipeg home, “I know to you he wasn’t just your captain, he was one of you, he loved playing for the Jets and he loved saying he was from Winnipeg” said King.

His presence wasn’t just felt in the NHL but also on the international stage as well. he proudly represented Canada numerous times including twice at the Canada Cup.

“In 1987 was the scene of one of the greatest highlights of his career as he played a key role in one of the most iconic goals in Canadian Hockey history,” said Orlesky.

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Many Jets alumni showed up to honour Hawerchuk as well as his former teammate and fellow hall of famer, Paul Coffey – He shared many fond memories of him throughout the years.

“You do not appreciate how great a player and how great a player and how great a teammate he is unless you get a chance to play with him,” he said.

Hawerchuk became the star that he was in Winnipeg. “He grew here as a hockey player, he grew here as a husband and a father. He loved Winnipeg, he loved playing here and it meant so much to him.” said Scott Arniel, Jets alumni (now an assistant coach with the team).

Before being drafted by the Jets in 2011,  Mark Scheifele was coached by Hawerchuk as a member of the OHL’s Barrie Colts.

“He was the best coach I’ve ever had but he was an even better human,” said Scheifele.

Scheifele will remember all the lessons Hawerchuck taught him and all the fun stories of winning games and losing games “Now I get to look at this statue and think about him and think about that he’s up in heaven looking down on me.”

“I get to go to the rink and go with that love and passion that he instilled in me when I was seventeen years old, what an amazing honour, and all I can say is, thank you Dale.”

Hawerchuk was notified of this great honour shortly before he passed “he was extremely humbled and honoured, it was an emotional day” said his wife Crystal.

“He inspired us all to be better people, everyone loved to be around him, he was special, the talent that we saw on the ice also shon through his heart,”

Fans at the preseason game received a commemorative Hawerchuk coin and True North Square now serves as the site of a celebration of Hawerchuk’s legacy.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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