Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Dale Hawerchuk Autographed Card

The biggest story in sports today isn't what happened on any field but instead the loss of one of the all-time greats, with the passing of Dale Hawerchuk.

He had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in October 2019, and it was believed he had won the fight in April, but it came back in July. He had had a gastrectomy in January.

By all accounts, he was a very good person, a terrific father and a caring Juniors coach, but most hockey fans will remember him as a very good hockey player who broke records everywhere he went, from the Guy Lafleur-besting 8 goals in a single game at the Québec International peewee tournament to the Memorial Cup record of 8 goals and 13 points to being the youngest player to ever reach the 100-pont mark in the NHL (a mark since beaten by Sidney Crosby), he was destined to make history.

And perhaps he'd have made an even larger mark on the game had he not played in the very same division as Wayne Gretzky's dynasty Edmonton Oilers, whom he would face in the playoff nearly every season in the 1980s and thus went home to an earlier Spring than if he'd played in one of 15 other NHL cities.

Heck, even his most memorable international moment with Team Canada is overshadowed by #99, as few people remember Hawerchuk was actually the player who won the defensive zone face-off and made the pass to Gretzky against Team USSR in a 5-5 winner-takes-all game, sending The Great One and a certain Mario Lemieux off on a two-on-one that would seal the game. That goal doesn't happen without Hawerchuk. He was named the MVP of that game, too.

Despite also suiting up for the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers - there will be plenty of time to revisit that later - he remains, in my mind, forever the best centre in Winnipeg Jets history. As a matter of fact, here is my all-time Jets lineup, regardless of league, but just the Jets in Winnipeg:
Bobby Hull - Hawerchuk - Teemu Selanne
Thomas Steen - Ulf Nilsson - Anders Hedberg
Keith Tkachuk - Mark Schiefele - Blake Wheeler
Paul MacLean - Alexei Zhamnov - Shane Doan
Ed Olczyk, Bryan Little

Phil Housley - Dustin Byfuglien
Randy Carlyle - Teppo Numminen
Dave Babych - Fredrik Olausson

Connor Hellebuyck
Bob Essensa
I think it's safe to say he's the #1 Jets player of all time, ahead of Hull, who had his best years with the Chicago Blackhawks. Selanne's rookie season was off the charts, but it's hard to argue with six 100-point seasons, two more over 90 and one at 81 in nine years in Winnipeg. That's elite among the elite.

That's why I traded for card #133 from Upper Deck's 2000-01 Legends set, that he signed with a fading blue sharpie, adding his jersey number (10) at the end:
It shows him wearing the team's classic blue 1980s uniform with the long white sleeves that I miss dearly.


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