This week, the city of Oshawa, ON. announced that a future park to be located at the former site of Donevan Collegiate Institute is set to be built under the name of ‘Dale Hawerchuk Park’. The park was unanimously approved by the Oshawa city council, and is slated to be erected for the spring of 2022 off of Harmony Road South in the new ‘Symphony Towns’ development.
Hawerchuk, 57, spent many years of his childhood living in Oshawa, attending the former Donevan High School, while also playing in the Oshawa Minor Hockey Association for the city’s Legionaires and Kinsmen.
“Having a neighbourhood park named after such a high-quality person and athlete who was raised in the area is the epitome of a park-naming,” said Councillor Kerr, Chair of the Community Services Committee in a City of Oshawa press release. “As Dale Hawerchuk is a valued member of the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame, it is with great pleasure that the Hall’s Board of Governors and myself, as the Mayor’s representative on the Board, heartily endorse this fine honour for Mr. Hawerchuk.”
“Dale Hawerchuk is by definition a ‘hometown hero’ always demonstrating teamwork, sportsmanship and respect both on and off the ice,” added Councillor Chapman, Ward 3 Regional & City Councillor. “An excellent example for our young people & I thank him for his contribution to our ‘hockey city’.”
‘Hometown hero’ Hawerchuk recently took a leave of absence from his post as head coach of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts to undergo a battle with stomach cancer. Having finished chemotherapy treatments less than two months ago, the 16-year NHL veteran has since been living at home and is reportedly in good spirits.
A proud member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, ‘Ducky’ put up 518 goals, 1,409 points and 740 penalty minutes in 1,188 regular season contests, before adding another 30 goals, 99 points and 67 penalty minutes in 97 postseason games. Nine of his seasons were spent playing for the original Winnipeg Jets in the 1980s. He served as team captain from 1984-90, before moving on to play for the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Philadelphia Flyers. Hawerchuk also earned two Canada Cup championships (1987, 1991) before turning his attention to coaching.
For Hawerchuk, the cancer came on very quick, with hardly any indication. Now serving as somewhat of a spokesperson for the cause, he did provide a message of support/instruction for a certain demographic of the general population in his appearance on Hockey Night in Canada’s ‘After Hours’ last month.
“The one thing you find out with cancer, and even talking to other people who have had cancer, is the symptoms don’t hit until it’s further along than you’d want,” Hawerchuk said. “If you can get it in stage one, you’re way ahead of the game and a lot of the times the symptoms don’t show up until stage three or four. I think just the way things are in the world now, whether it’s the food we’re eating, you should do these scopes earlier than when we used to recommend.”
Although his return to the bench in Barrie will not be imminent, Hawerchuk does miss the game of hockey and is hoping to get back to his favourite pastime, when physically able.
“Yeah I really miss it,” Hawerchuk said on coaching the Colts. “After I do the scans at the end of May and see where I’m at, I’ll meet with my doctors in early June and see where I’m at at that time, and go over everything. But I can tell you, I miss working with the kids, I got a chance when I felt good at certain times to get up there and see the boys and the coaches. I miss going up there; I enjoy it so much. We will see how things shake out in a month from now, but first and foremost, I’ve got to be healthy to do it, that’s for sure, but I miss it.”
Now, with his hometown of Oshawa set to open a local park in his name in two years’ time, Hawerchuk certainly has some additional motivation in his continued road to recovery.
“During his 16-year NHL career, Dale Hawerchuk embodied the spirit of poise, resilience and hard work, which is a true reflection of the community he grew up in,” said Oshawa City Councillor Marks. “Oshawa, and especially Ward 3, are proud of Dale, his accomplishments and look forward to enjoying a future park named in his honour on the former site of Donevan High School. Congratulations Dale.”