FanPost

It's Dale Hawerchuk Day!

With 10 days left until the Coyotes preseason opener, it's super easy to honor the greatest number 10 in Coyote franchise history. Some players wore it fairly well for the team, including Alexei Zhamnov, who did it while playing on the Olympic Line with Tkachuk and Selanne in the twilight years of the Jets, Oleg Tverdovsky, a offensively skilled d-man who was acquired as the main piece back in the ill fated Teemu Selanne trade, and Trevor Letowski. But c'mon, there is only one number 10 when it comes to the Jets/Coyotes franchise.

Dale Hawerchuk was the number one overall pick of the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by the Jets. He would make an impact immediately, scoring 103 points as a rookie in the '81-'82 season and becoming the youngest player in NHL history to eclipse the 100 point barrier, a feat that would be passed by Sidney Crosby in the 2006 season. The next year, Dale would only get 91 points before embarking on a quest of 5 consecutive seasons scoring 100 plus points. His career year was the '84-'85 campaign when he scored 53 goals and 77 assists for 130 points, all career highs. The Jets would also win their first ever NHL playoff series that season, taking down the Calgary Flames in the first round 3 games to 1. Hawerchuk finished that year seventh in goals and fourth in assists. He was also third in overall points, eclipsed by Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers would also end the Jets playoff run in the second round, and then Hawerchuk would finish second in the Hart trophy balloting to Gretzky. For Hawerchuk and the Jets, this would be a common occurrence during his Jet career, always being bested by Gretzky and the Oilers.

Hawerchuk played nine seasons in Winnipeg and was the face of the franchise. He was the team captain from 1984 through 1990, a total of six seasons. The only players in team history to hold that honor longer are Keith Tkachuk, who was a captain for 7 seasons, and Shane Doan, who has been the Coyotes captain for the past 8 years. On June 16, 1990, at the NHL Draft, Hawerchuk would be involved in one of the franchise's most important trades. He was traded to Buffalo along with the Jets first round pick for Phil Housley, Scott Arniel, Jeff Parker and the Sabres first round pick. With the Sabres' pick, the Jets selected Keith Tkachuk. In effect, the trade closed the book on one era of the Jets franchise and turned the page to a brand new chapter, one that would help establish the team in the desert.

As a Jet, Hawerchuk still holds multiple career and single season records. He played in 713 games, scoring 379 goals, 550 assists for 929 points. He also had 122 powerplay tallies and scored 12 goals short-handed. He is currently 4th on the team's list for games played, third in short-handed goals and second in assists. He is the franchise's all time leader in powerplay goals, even-strength goals and total goals and also in total points. He has 6 of the team's 10 best goals scored seasons, and his 53 goals in '85 are second to only Teemu Selanne and his jaw dropping 76 goal rookie year. He has 3 of the 4 greatest assist seasons in franchise history, but he doesn't have the record as that belongs to Phil Housley's 79 in '92-'93. He was a 4 time All-Star as a Jet, won the 1981 NHL Calder Memorial Trophy for best rookie and was named as the second line center of the '85 All-NHL Team behind Gretzky. He never led the league in any statistical category except for games played, as he was incredibly durable and consistent, playing in all 80 games for five straight years from '84-'88. He also played in 38 playoff games for the Jets, scoring 16 goals and adding 33 assists for 49 points. Unfortunately, the Jets would never make it out of the second round.

While Hawerchuk was amazing as a Jet, for most hockey fans, particularly Canadian ones, he's most remembered for being a major international player. He would play for Team Canada in World Championship tournaments and in two Canada Cups, in 1987 and 1991. During the 1987 Canada Cup, he surprised much of the hockey world by taking on a checking role for the team behind the more acclaimed centers Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier. That didn't stop Dale from having a tremendous impact on the tournament, and he was decisive in Canada's victory over the Soviets. Here he is winning the face-off late in the all important game 3 that leads to one of the greatest goals in the history of international competition:

Dale "Ducky" Hawerchuk is one of the greatest players in NHL history. He currently ranks 35th in career goals scored, 20th in assists and 19th in points in NHL history. He is still the only skater in NHL history to appear in 1000 games before the age of 31. He is a hockey Hall-of-Famer. On April 5, 2007, he became the third player inducted into the Jets/Coyotes Ring of Honor, joining Bobby Hull and Tomas Steen. He is the greatest number 10 in franchise history.

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