Among those most influential in his hockey career, Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele will be eternally grateful to Dale Hawerchuk, who died of stomach cancer last August.
Indeed, Hawerchuk was not only an exceptional player. He was also a scoring coach for several players who play in the National Hockey League (NHL) today.
“We got to know him and learn from him,” Scheifele said in an interview with NHL.com. I feel sorry for these young people who will be drafted by Barrie [dans la Ligue de hockey de l’Ontario] and who won’t have the chance to learn from Dale. This makes me sad.”
Scheifele played with the Barrie Colts for two seasons, from 2010 to 2012, where Hawerchuk was a pilot for nine years. He resigned from his post in August 2019 after being diagnosed with cancer. A year later, he died at the age of 57.
For Scheifele and several others, it is a true mentor who died.
“He did things quietly,” he explained. I know the guys who played for him and we all chatted together when he died. It’s amazing how much he has done for all of us. Each of us agreed that he was the best coach he had ever had and that he was an extraordinary man. Not a bad word. ”
“We’ve all been lucky, me, Tanner Pearson, Aaron Ekblad, Erik Bradford, Colin Behenna and everyone who played for him.”
A decisive meeting
Hawerchuk made a strong impression on Scheifele when they first met in the summer of 2010. From then on, the young player’s decision was made: he wanted to play his minor hockey in Barrie.
“Funny to say, but it was almost love at first sight,” Scheifele said. He spoke my language. I said to myself: it’s for him that I want to play. I had committed to [l’Université] Cornell at the time and I was sure I wanted to go there. And suddenly I spoke to Dale and felt like I had to go play for him, that I would go to war for this man. I thought he was going to help me become an NHL player. […] I will always remember this meeting. ”
Scheifele continues to follow in his mentor’s footsteps in Winnipeg, where Hawerchuk enjoyed his glory days as a player.