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UKRAINIAN PRO HOCKEY UPDATE

by Ihor Stelmach

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Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk reflects on hockey career

The Ukrainian member of the Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2001 went to his first training camp in the summer of 1981 determined to make a difference for the Winnipeg Jets. It turns out, training camp made a difference for Dale Hawerchuk.

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Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball "Whenever you're the first overall pick, you know you're going to a weak team," said Hawerchuk, who at the time was a slick junior center coming off back-to-back Memorial Cups with the Cornwall Royals. He was being compared to Wayne Gretzky in terms of his ability to see the ice and make those around him better.

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"With that in mind, I wanted to come in and make a difference. The first few days, I didn't know if I could cut it. I mean the guys are men ... they're bigger and faster and stronger. I was scared. I was the first pick and I didn't think I could make the team."

Hawerchuk did indeed make the team. And he didn't have a bad season, either. His 45 goals in 1981-1982 rank as the third highest total ever by a rookie, as do his 103 points that season. The lowly Jets hadn't made the playoffs their first two years in the NHL after joining from the World Hockey Association, but they finished second in the Norris Division.

Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball Hawerchuk attributes the fact that the Jets lost to St. Louis in the first round of the playoffs to his team's lack of experience. But inexperience didn't prevent the Oshawa native from becoming an instant star in the National Hockey League. He spent nine dazzling seasons in Winnipeg, averaging 42 goals and 103 points per year. Then came five productive years with Buffalo, one with St. Louis and two in Philadelphia. In 1,188 games, "Ducky" scored 518 goals (23rd all-time) and 1,409 points (13th all-time). A bad hip forced him to retire at the tender age of 34. His second career is raising horses at his farm in Hockey Valley, Ontario.

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Though he never won a Stanley Cup - the closest he ever came was his final year with the Flyers when they went to the Stanley Cup final in 1997 - Hawerchuk was a big part of one of the most revered championship teams of all-time. Any hockey fan knows the play: Wayne Gretzky breaks in on a 3-on-1 with Mario Lemieux, and Larry Murphy in the deciding game of the 1987 Canada Cup, the one where Gretzky passes to Lemieux who fires home the winning goal.

Well, guess who won the face-off at the other end to give Canada the puck? You betcha, our man Dale Hawerchuk.

Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball "(Mike) Keenan sent me out to replace (Mark) Messier, who was at the end of a long shift," Hawerchuk reminisced. "Mess' was tired and I was pretty hot. Mike likes to go with guys who are hot. I remember skating to the face-off circle thinking, 'At the very least I've got to tie their guy up. If I don't win the draw, at least I can't lose it.' "

Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball Hawerchuk won the draw - Canada earned the glory.

Looking back, Hawerchuk said his career was a blur.

"From the age of 16 or 17 it's just hockey, hockey, hockey," he said. "I tell parents not to burn their kids out. I tell them to do something else in the summer."

Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball Gee, whatever could he mean? Like, maybe, go horseback riding?

Dale Hawerchuk career capsule

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Regular Season Playoffs
games 1,188 games 97
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assists 891 Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball assists 69
points 1,409 Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball points 99

Born Toronto, Ontario, April 4, 1963. Ht. 5-11, Wt. 190. Pos. Center. Junior/International Won two Memorial Cups with Cornwall. Represented Canada at six competitions. NHL Drafted by Winnipeg (1981). Nine seasons with Winnipeg, five with Buffalo. Scored 100 or more points six of first seven seasons. Won Calder Trophy (1982). Named to second all-star team (1985). Dangled and weaved with the puck in his skates. A great playmaker, who also knew how to finish.

Co-captain Konowalchuk forced to sidelines

Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball The Washington Capitals will have to do without one of their grittiest players for the next three plus months after left-winger Steve Konowalchuk underwent surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder. The good news is that, according to General Manager George McPhee, the operation went "very, very well."

Like many players who earn their living mucking and grinding, Konowalchuk is not known as well as some of his teammates, but is among the most respected players on the team.

He was named a co-captain by his team during training camp, was The Hockey News' recommendation for the Selke Trophy (top defensive forward) last season and was on the club's highly regarded checking line with Jeff Halpern and Ulf Dahlen. The injury occurred during training camp and grew progressively worse.

"There was one episode where it just kind of came out and then it came out in bed one night," McPhee said. "When that happened we knew he probably would be ineffective for the rest of the season. We thought if he had surgery now (late October) we could certainly count on him in February and March."

Konowalchuk had played in 169 consecutive games before being forced to the sidelines. The last five games of the consecutive streak were this season's first five matches. One of Konowalchuk's three points in October was the 300th of his Capitals' career.

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The youth-dominated Tampa Bay Lightning signed veteran Dave Andreychuk as a free agent to add some proven veteran scoring power and leadership ... Here's Andreychuk's take on resident Lightning superstar Vincent Lecavalier: "I told him he's going to score a lot of goals in this league. Sometimes it's just a matter of confidence. You can tell by watching him that he's pressing. He just has to keep doing the things he does over and over again. Eventually the tide changes. I told him we've got confidence in him. We have to make sure he knows that" ... A check from Boston defenseman Kyle McLaren gave right-winger Denis Shvidki of Florida a concussion that kept him out of the final three pre-season games and the first two full months of this regular campaign. It was the Panthers' hope that Shvidki would work as a third-line right-winger behind the Bure brothers as he matures. Three days after skating with the team for the first time since suffering the concussion, Shvidki was restricted to off-ice exercise. Suffering from post-concussion syndrome, Shvidki began experiencing headaches after workouts.

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(Hawerchuk quotes courtesy of Mike Brophy, Konowalchuk quotes thanks to Dave Fay, both of The Hockey News.)

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Jerseys Of Yankees Official York Online Mattingly Don Jerseys shop Major New Baseball Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, December 16, 2001, No. 50, Vol. LXIX

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