Connect with us

Sports

Humble Dale Hawerchuk remembered as a resilient competitor

Published

on

Over the past few days, Mike Keenan composed a text message to Dale Hawerchuk with perhaps his most poignant piece of coaching over their 42-year relationship.

“You’ve got one more faceoff to win,” Keenan wrote of Hawerchuk’s battle with cancer.

It was Keenan’s way of showing his support for one of the most resilient and competitive players he has ever crossed paths with – a path that includes their shared role in one of the most memorable faceoffs in hockey history.​

In the waning moments of Game 3 in the 1987 Canada Cup final between Canada and the Soviet Union, two of the greatest centres ever to play the game in Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux deferred to Hawerchuk on the draw.

It’s the moment that produced the odd-man rush between Nos. 66 and 99 that is forever etched on the minds of fans across Canada.

Hawerchuk’s legacy will be equally long-lasting, just judging by the messages that flowed to his phone from around the hockey world in recent days and weeks.

One of the game’s great superstars in the glory days of the 1980s, Hawerchuk passed away at the age of 57 on Tuesday after a year-long battle with stomach cancer, his family announced.

Remembering Hawerchuk’s legendary career

Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk has died at the age of 57. A native of Toronto, Hawerchuk had experienced a recurrence of cancer in recent weeks. A five-time All-Star, Hawerchuk appeared in 1,188 games over 16 seasons with the Jets, Sabres, Blues and Flyers. Michael Farber has more on his legendary career in this essay.

The face of the original Winnipeg Jets franchise – and one of Canada’s best junior hockey players ever – was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

Keenan, beginning his coaching journey with the Oshawa Legionaries of the Toronto Metro Jr. B league, first coached the kid they called Ducky as a 15-year-old in 1978-79. What stood out then, even for a player deemed to be a childhood prodigy who broke Guy Lafleur’s goal-scoring record in the Quebec International Pee Wee tournament, turned out to be the hallmark of Hawerchuk’s NHL career.

“He was so resilient,” Keenan said. “He was the best player on our team as a 15-year-old. He thrived on the competition as a young man, and when we got into some heavy playoff battles, the other teams would really go after him. He didn’t back down. He bounced right back up. You could tell then that he had what it takes to be a superstar in the NHL.”

The entire country saw it over the next two years, playing for the Cornwall Royals in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Over a two-year run, Hawerchuk collected 286 points in 144 regular-season games, two Memorial Cups, CHL Player of the Year, Memorial Cup MVP and QMJHL playoff MVP.

In 1981, Hawerchuk and the Royals faced Keenan’s Peterborough Petes, the defending Memorial Cup champions. The Petes allegedly threw the final game of their round-robin in order to ensure a matchup with Hawerchuk and Cornwall in the final, a perceived weaker opponent. Cornwall upended Peterborough in overtime in the final.

Keenan always denied the narrative, but he and Hawerchuk always enjoyed playful banter whenever it came up.

“I would tell him we outplayed them in the final,” Keenan said. “And he would say, ‘Maybe, but we’ve got the Cup,’ and I couldn’t really argue with that.”

The Jets drafted the can’t-miss Toronto native first overall in 1981. Hawerchuk infamously inked his contract at the corner of Portage and Main in downtown Winnipeg after GM John Ferguson had him delivered in a Brinks truck, marking a rebirth of the franchise in the NHL.

Twenty-one picks later, the Jets drafted Hawerchuk’s Cornwall teammate and lifelong friend Scott Arniel with the first selection of the second round. Arniel ended up being Hawerchuk’s teammate for seven straight seasons – one in Cornwall and six with the Jets.

“He was Winnipeg’s big news. There was big hype and he was a big-time player,” said Arniel, now an assistant coach with the Washington Capitals. “He earned it all. He didn’t just have talent, Dale had this great drive and ambition, something that I don’t know if I’ve seen. He’s one of those people that the expectation of himself was so much greater than what anyone could put on him.”

Hawerchuk exceeded those lofty expectations. Hawerchuk posted 100 or more points in six of his first seven seasons in the NHL, including five straight from 1983-88.

The Jets said in a statement on Tuesday that “Dale Hawerchuk put Winnipeg and the Jets on the map the day he arrived in our city in 1981.”

From his debut in 1981 until 1993-94, Hawerchuk was second league-wide in points (1,298) only to Gretzky (2,157), topping Lemieux (1,211), Paul Coffey (1,246) and Mark Messier (1,220). Hawerchuk was the Jets’ captain for six seasons, then wore the ‘A’ in Buffalo for the following five.

“He just hated to lose,” Arniel said. “It didn’t matter if it was golf, baseball or hockey – he was extremely competitive.”

Hawerchuk is widely considered one of the best players ever to not win a Stanley Cup. The closest he got – the only time his team ever advanced past the second round – was the 1997 Stanley Cup Final with the Philadelphia Flyers, the last games he played before retiring at the age of 34 due to a degenerative hip problem.

His Jets just never had enough to sneak past the Smythe Division stalwarts in Edmonton and Calgary.

On the international stage, Hawerchuk wrote a different story. Tasked with coaching Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup, Keenan learned his lesson from betting against Hawerchuk in the 1980 Memorial Cup.

Hawerchuk was a borderline roster player on that ‘87 squad with 10 other future Hockey Hall of Famers, but caught Keenan’s eye with his work ethic in training camp.

Poulin on Hawerchuk: ‘He was a special, special hockey player’

Dave Poulin, who had a chance to play with Dale Hawerchuk in his career, describes him as a hockey player and as a man, while Darren Dreger, who got to know Hawerchuk as a hockey dad, discusses how much he loved the sport.

“He told me: ‘We didn’t have you pencilled in, but the way you’re playing, there’s no way we can keep you out of the lineup,’” Hawerchuk recalled in a recent interview with TSN.

He ended up being one of the true difference-makers for Canada. Not only did Hawerchuk win the draw to setup the game-winning goal, but he ran interference in the neutral zone so Lemieux and Gretzky could sail toward the Soviet goal. He was also part of Canada’s 1991 Canada Cup victory.

“It was a privilege coaching him again,” Keenan said. “He was a really humble competitor, very coachable, and that’s what allowed that team to come together – because of the traits of people like Dale. These guys all came from different teams where  they were superstars, and he played a lot less than he would have in Winnipeg, but was so humble about it.”

Hawerchuk’s humility carried over to his post-playing career, coaching in the junior ranks. He was named head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts in 2010, where he posted five 40-plus win campaigns over nine seasons. Hawerchuk helped develop future NHL stars such as Mark Scheifele and Andrei Svechnikov in Barrie.

But Hawerchuk called the opportunity to coach his son, Ben, in the OHL one of his greatest honours in hockey.

Hawerchuk was forced to take a leave of absence from coaching last year after his cancer diagnosis. He told Arniel in a subsequent phone call: “I’m beating it. This thing isn’t going to get me.”

That appeared to be the case when Hawerchuk triumphantly rung the Bell of Hope at a Barrie hospital on April 13 at the conclusion of his treatment.

It was then, in the middle of a pandemic, that a courageous player who gave the hockey world so many indelible moments said that these trying times were a moment of opportunity for everyone to appreciate the little things.

“When you wake up, it’s refreshing,” Hawerchuk told the Winnipeg Sun. “I sure appreciate when I see that sun pop over the rise every morning. You start to realize that everything we’ve had was such a privilege. We take that privilege for granted too often. The cancer’s helped me realize that a bit. But this coronavirus is also going to help, not only me, but everybody. We can’t take so many things for granted anymore.”

Hawerchuk is survived by his wife, Crystal, and children Eric, Ben and Alexis. Funeral arrangements were pending.

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli​

Source: – TSN

Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Bob Nevin dies at 82 – ESPN

Published

on


Bob Nevin, a fan favorite who won two Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs before a successful run as captain of the New York Rangers, has died. He was 82.

The NHL said he died early Monday but did not give a cause.

Nevin played 1,128 NHL games with Toronto, New York, Minnesota and Los Angeles, totaling 726 points (307 goals, 419 assists) while compiling just 211 penalty minutes.

“His honest, two-way play and leadership earned him the respect and admiration of teammates and fans alike,” the Rangers said on Twitter.

Nevin, one of the first NHL players to wear contact lenses, was part of one of hockey’s more surreal moments. During a 1962 game with Toronto in Chicago, he lost a lens. Time was called, and players and officials dropped to their knees to scour the ice, looking for the wayward lens. It never turned up.

He played his first full NHL season in 1960-61, scoring 21 goals as a rookie and finishing runner-up to Maple Leafs teammate Dave Keon in the Calder Trophy voting.

Nevin helped the Maple Leafs win Stanley Cup titles in 1962 and 1963 before being dealt to the Rangers along with Arnie Brown, Bill Collins, Dick Duff and Rod Seiling in a blockbuster trade that sent star winger Andy Bathgate and forward Don McKenney to Toronto.

While Bathgate helped the Maple Leafs win another championship in 1964, Nevin became an important part of the Rangers, serving as captain of the team from 1965 to 1971.

He helped the underachieving club end a four-year playoff drought in 1967. He led the Rangers to their first series win in 21 years in 1971, when New York beat the Leafs 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

Nevin was dealt to the North Stars before the 1971-72 season and spent two seasons in Minnesota before joining Los Angeles. His career was rejuvenated in his three seasons with the Kings. He had his highest-scoring campaign in his next-to-last NHL season — 31 goals and 41 assists with Los Angeles in 1974-75.

Nevin joined the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers for the 1976-77 season but broke a collarbone 13 games into the season and retired.

Nevin was from South Porcupine, Ontario, and came to the Maple Leafs via junior hockey’s Toronto Marlboros. He lived in the Toronto area after his 19-year career.

“Bob was ever-present at Leafs games and within the alumni community,” the Maple Leafs said on Twitter.

Survivors include his wife, Linda.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Former Leaf, Rangers captain Nevin dead at 82 – TSN

Published

on


TORONTO — Bob Nevin, a fan favourite who won two Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs before a successful run as captain of the New York Rangers, has died. He was 82.

Nevin died early Monday, according to the NHL. No cause of death was given.

Nevin played 1,128 NHL games with Toronto, New York, Minnesota and Los Angeles, putting up 726 points (307 goals, 419 assists) while compiling just 211 penalty minutes.

The Maple Leafs, Rangers, Kings were among the organizations offering condolences on social media.

“The Rangers are saddened to learn of the passing of Bob Nevin,” the team posted on Twitter. “A captain and fan favourite during his tenure with NYR, his honest, two-way play and leadership earned him the respect and admiration of teammates and fans alike. Our thoughts are with Bob’s wife, Linda, and his family.”

Nevin, from South Porcupine, Ont., came to the Maple Leafs via junior hockey’s Toronto Marlboros, where he played four seasons and helped the team to a Memorial Cup title in 1956.

He played his first full NHL season in 1960-61, scoring 21 goals as a rookie and finishing runner-up to Maple Leafs teammate Dave Keon in the Calder Trophy voting.

Nevin helped the Leafs win Stanley Cup titles in 1962 and 1963 before being dealt to the Rangers along with Arnie Brown, Bill Collins, Dick Duff and Rod Seiling in a blockbuster trade that sent star winger Andy Bathgate and forward Don McKenney to Toronto.

While Bathgate helped the Maple Leafs win another championship in 1964, Nevin became an important part of the Rangers, serving as captain of the team from 1965 to 1971.

He helped the underachieving club end a four-year playoff drought in 1967, and led the Rangers to their first series win in 21 years in 1971, when New York beat the Leafs 4-2 in the quarterfinals.

The 2009 book “100 Ranger Greats” listed Nevin at No. 51.

Nevin was dealt to the North Stars before the 1971-72 season and spent two seasons in Minnesota before joining Los Angeles.

His career was rejuvenated in his three seasons with the Kings. He had his highest-scoring campaign in his penultimate NHL season, putting up 31 goals and 41 assists with Los Angeles in 1974-75.

Nevin joined the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers for the 1976-77 season, but suffered a broken collarbone 13 game into the campaign and retired.

Nevin, who the Maple Leafs had at No. 64 on their list of 100 all-time players released for their 2016 centennial season, lived in the Toronto area after his 19-year playing career.

“Bob was ever-present at Leafs games and within the Alumni community,” the Maple Leafs said in a Twitter post. “Our deepest sympathies go out to Bob’s wife Linda.”

Nevin, one of the first NHL players to wear contact lenses, was part of one of hockey’s more surreal moments when he lost a lens during Toronto’s 1962 game against the Blackhawks in Chicago. Time was called, and players and officials dropped to their knees to scour the ice looking for the wayward lens. It never turned up.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

What does and does not need to happen for the Leafs to land Pietrangelo in free agency – Pension Plan Puppets

Published

on


Cap Friendly has been overrun with Leafs fans this weekend as reports indicate contract negotiations between the Alex Pietrangelo and the St. Louis Blues have deteriorated. It’s becoming more and more likely Pietrangelo will enter free agency on October 9th, with the Toronto Maple Leafs deeply interested. If the improbable happens and he signs, I just want to say that Justin Faulk will never pay for a drink in the GTA ever again.

In the grand scheme of things, the odds Pietrangelo signs on the virtual dotted line in October are low. The Blues can cave in at any moment and give into his contract demands, another team could come in with a better offer, or a meteor could smash into the Earth (we’re on pace for one before the end of September at the rate 2020 is going).

But what if he does? What will the Leafs need to do in order to ice a salary cap compliant and competitive team for next season?

What doesn’t need to happen: Trading Frederik Andersen

The Leafs goalie situation is, for the most part, independent of finding the cap space for Pietrangelo. If the Leafs do make a trade for someone like Matt Murray, Darcy Kuemper, Alexander Georgiev, or sign Robin Lehner, the team’s cap space will go up or down, but it won’t be done because the Leafs need the space. It’ll be because Kyle Dubas pulled the trigger on a goalie for the medium term so he didn’t have to deal with it next season when Andersen is a free agent.

Trading for a cheaper goalie would make signing Pietrangelo easier, as they’ll be able to keep one of their middle-class contracts, but it’s not necessary. Plus, personally, spending more on a more proven starting goalie is more valuable than an average 3C, especially on this team.

What does need to happen: Trading Andreas Johnsson

This move is almost a given if the Leafs are interested in acquiring any defenseman of merit onto the team. Andreas Johnsson simply does not move the needle enough on a team needs as much bang for their buck when it comes to offense beyond the top-four. Ilya Mikheyev has seemingly passed him by on the left side, Nick Robertson is blazing towards doing the same. As a winger, he just doesn’t provide enough.

I don’t think there’s much debate on this topic from the community from what I’ve seen.

What doesn’t need to happen: Trading Morgan Rielly

The money doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t need to happen. The Leafs don’t have someone on the right side who can play the minutes Rielly does and provide the elite puck-moving offense from the defense. Offensively, he can’t realistically be replaced. Where Rielly has lacked statistically, it’s been defensively next to a crop of some of the worst defensive players in the league during Rielly’s time in it. Ron Hainsey was the best one, and replacing him with Alex Pietrangelo has a strong chance of creating an elite top pair this team needs.

Give this pair two seasons together and let’s see what they can do. And at the end of it all, the Leafs will be out of Phil Kessel’s retained salary and Jack Campbell’s contract, giving them adequate space to give Rielly a respectable couple million dollars raise. He won’t command more than Pietrangelo (reportedly in the $8-9 million range) and that’s something the Leafs can do, even under a flat cap. and if the Leafs need to choose between Rielly and an aged Jake Muzzin, they can spend the assets and move Muzzin out too.

There are options for the Leafs to have their Rielly cake (phrasing) and eat it too. It doesn’t need to be solved right now.

Breathe, Rielly is staying.

What does* need to happen: Trading Alex Kerfoot
* probably

I’ve laid out a scenario for the Leafs below to sign Pietrangelo and fill out their roster using internal RFAs and trading both Johnsson and Kerfoot for picks or prospects. I have no idea what the return for those players will be — especially if here are signed skaters coming back — but it’ll definitely look something like this.

With Kerfoot, there is a tiny bit of space that could be made to keep him on the team for a second season. It would require a major squeeze to the likes of RFAs Ilya Mikheyev, Evan Rodrigues. and Travis Dermott (who I will get to later) and likely the trading of Pierre Engvall. All of those things are difficult and cruel, but those players are replaceable for the most part. I think it’s worthwhile to try, but it would be very hard and callous. Brigstew has an article coming out on this that I won’t spoil, but replacing Kerfoot for cheap is a very reasonable proposition (spoiler above).

What Kerfoot doesn’t do is provide enough value on the third line to downgrade top of the lineup players like Andersen, Rielly, or even Zach Hyman. On the ladder of expendable players on the Leafs, Kerfoot and his contract is at the bottom of that group making $2-6 million. Maybe Justin Holl gets bumped for Dermott, that could be very possible.

There are a lot of different avenues the Leafs can take to ice a competitive lineup next season bolstered by one of the top defensemen in the world, however none of them require a major piece to be news. No offense to Andreas and Alexander.

Top Heavy

If the improbable does happen and the above moves do need to happen, the Leafs will finally be what they’ve been accused of by so many people: top heavy. They’ll have two elite forward lines, one elite defense pair, and hopefully a top-10 goalie in Frederik Andersen (at least for this year). The defense will finally look respectable after decades of being bottom-10 in the league, I think I quite like all three pairings (plus whoever else they have as a scratch or on the Marlies. The bottom-six is where they’ll be weakest.

Unless the Leafs can get above-expected seasons from some of their players — Robertson gets old and better, Engvall gets out of his shooting bender, and Alexander Barabanov becomes a worthwhile middle-six player — the third and fourth lines will basically be two fourth lines. Similar to what the Marlies did, I wouldn’t mind an offensively focused and a defensively focused group to maximize both units.

I don’t know if I trust the Leafs top two lines to carry the team every night, but they’ll have to if this is the way the Leafs go in this direction. It’s risky and scary, but it also gets you Alex Pietrangelo. Is that worth it?

Poll

What would you do as GM?

  • 69%

    Bring me Pietro, we need to solve the 1RD problem

    (816 votes)

  • 30%

    Cheap and cheerful, build on depth

    (357 votes)



1173 votes total

Vote Now

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending