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Hawerchuk receives support from Jets after cancer returns

Hockey Hall of Famer diagnosed last year, is 'one of our family,' GM says

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

Dale Hawerchuk, the former Winnipeg Jets forward and Hockey Hall of Famer who was diagnosed with stomach cancer, received an emotional message of support from Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff on Tuesday.

"Dale is going through a tough time right now," Cheveldayoff said. "We, as an organization, are here to support him. We wish him all the best in his fight. He's one of our family, and we're with you, Dale."

Hawerchuk, a member of the original Jets franchise, played an integral role in the selection of forward Mark Scheifele, the No. 7 pick of the 2011 NHL Draft. Hawerchuk was Scheifele's coach in Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League from 2010-13.

"Dale Hawerchuk was a very big supporter of Mark Scheifele when we went through the draft process and (we) had lots of conversations," Cheveldayoff said. 

Hawerchuk was diagnosed in August 2019 and stepped away from coaching after nine seasons with Barrie. The 57-year-old began chemotherapy treatments and had surgery to remove his stomach. He completed cancer treatments in April, but Hawerchuk's son, Eric, tweeted Sunday that his father's cancer had returned.

"My dad is back in his fight against cancer due to a resurgence of this terrible disease. We are praying for him and he will continue to fight hard ️#HawerchukStrong," the tweet said.

Hawerchuk, the No. 1 pick by the Jets in the 1981 NHL Draft, scored 1,409 points (518 goals, 891 assists) in 1,188 career games for with the Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers during 16 seasons (1981-1997). He had 99 points (30 goals, 69 assists) in 97 Stanley Cup Playoff games and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.

"It's like somebody told me, it's like being bag-skated for a week solid," Hawerchuk said in November, comparing his cancer treatment to a drill where players skate for minutes on end, usually with no pucks and prodded by coaches to keep up a pace until leg muscles are spent and lungs burn. "You just suck it up and do it if you want to make it. If they told you, you could make the NHL if you bag-skated for a full week for two months, you'd say, 'OK, I'll do that.' Here, you're trying to save your life, so it's, 'Yeah, I'll do that.'"

The Jets (37-28-6, .563 points percentage) enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference and will begin their best-of-5 series against the Calgary Flames (36-27-7, .564), the No. 8 seed, in Edmonton, the West hub city, on Saturday. The winner will advance to the playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, to be held Aug. 10.

Winnipeg will play the Vancouver Canucks in an exhibition game at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN, NHL.TV).

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