Late hockey legend honoured with park naming in Oshawa

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Published June 26, 2024 at 4:26 pm

Dale Hawerchuk Park
Oshawa Councillors were joined by family of the late Dale Hawerchuk to celebrate the official opening of Dale Hawerchuk Park, in the new Symphony Towns development on Harmony Road South, the former site of Donevan High School

A ceremony dedicated to a park named honouring an Oshawa hockey legend appropriately ended with a friendly game of street hockey.

The new Dale Hawerchuk Park officially opened Tuesday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, with the late Hockey Hall of Famer’s family and friends gathered with members of Oshawa Council.

City Council approved naming the park in honour of Hawerchuk, a decorated hockey hero who grew up in Oshawa before a stellar career as a star in both the junior ranks in Cornwall and in NHL ranks where he accumulated nearly 1,500 points in a 16-year career.

Fittingly, the park is situated in the new Symphony Towns development on Harmony Road South, the former site of Donevan High School where Hawerchuk attended while playing for Oshawa Kinsmen and Oshawa Legionaires squads.

Taken by the Cornwall Royals in the 1979 junior draft, Hawerchuk led his team to back-to-back Memorial Cups and Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year honours before going first overall in 1981 to the Winnipeg Jets.

Naming the park after Hawerchuk underscores Oshawa’s strong connections to hockey and its core values of discipline, teamwork, respect, communication and humility, all reflected in his legacy, said Oshawa Mayor Dan Carter.

“Dale Hawerchuk personified the spirit of the great city of Oshawa and naming this park in his honour is a fitting tribute to his legacy. He made our city proud, not just as a hockey town, but as a caring community that values dedication and perseverance,” Carter said. “It warms my heart to think of the future generations of kids who will come to this park and be inspired to dream big and work hard to succeed, just like Dale did.”

Hawerchuk played for the Jets, Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and the Philadelphia Flyers before retiring in 1997. During his tenure he was awarded the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year and played in five NHL All-Star Games. Despite hanging up his skates more than a quarter-century ago, Hawerchuk still holds a place in the top 20 NHL career point leaders.

He also represented Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships and as a senior player at the World Championships and in two Canada Cups, most notably in 1987 when his faceoff win led to the iconic Gretzky-to-Lemieux overtime winner in the deciding game against the Soviets.

Councillor Tito-Dante Marimpietri, who was born and raised in Oshawa and watched Hawerchuk’s career blossom, said he was “immensely proud” to see the park “brought to life.”

“It’s fitting that this park honours Dale, whose own hopes and dreams began while playing hockey in his neighbourhood park. Now, it will serve as a beacon, encouraging others to purse their own aspirations, enjoy neighbourhood friendships, and be as proud as he was of our hometown.”

Hawerchuk was inducted into the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1999, the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Durham District School Board’s ‘Definitely Durham’ Hall of Fame in 2020. He continued his passion for the game as the longest-serving head coach in Barrie Colts history, spending nine years behind the bench before stepping aside shortly before his death from stomach cancer in 2020.

Family members said that naming the park in his honour – which was announced before his passing – was a great source of pride for Hawerchuk.

“The Dale Hawerchuk Park not only honours a true hometown hero whose legacy embodies the values of teamwork, sportsmanship and respect but will also provide more green space for families in the area,” said Councillor Bob Chapman. “Dale’s example continues to inspire our young people and we are grateful for his enduring contribution to the sport and to our community.”

The park features a vibrant playground with shaded seating areas and wide accessible paved pathways.

 

 

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