Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk is staying positive as he battles stomach cancer.
The former Winnipeg Jets forward was diagnosed with the disease in August and is undergoing chemotherapy to treat it.
“For some reason, the Lord put me in this kind of fight and I’m ready to fight it,” Hawerchuk told TSN. “I want to live to tell the story.”
Hawerchuk was taken first overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. He played nine years with the Jets, racking up 379 goals and 929 points in 713 games before spending the next five seasons in Buffalo. With the Sabres, he put up 385 points in 342 games before being traded to St. Louis. He spent the last two years of his career in Philadelphia.
Over the course of 16 NHL seasons, the Toronto native registered 518 goals and 1,409 points in 1,188 games, and in 2001, he was named to the HHOF. In 2016, he was the Jets’ alumni team captain in the 2016 Heritage Classic Alumni Game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Hawerchuk went on to serve as the head coach for his former OHL club, the Barrie Colts, starting in 2010-11. Over the course of his nine-year tenure behind the bench, the 56-year-old helped the Colts to four Central Division titles, as well as six playoff berths. In September, he announced he was taking a leave of absence due to health reasons.
“. . . An illness like this can definitely put things in perspective. My surgeon told me I’ve got a hell of a battle on my hands, but I’m young and healthy everywhere else,” Hawerchuk added in his interview with TSN. “Like anything in life, you just got to dig in and go for what your goals are. It’s kind of no different than trying to make the NHL. Who knew if I could make it, right?”