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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Dale Hawerchuk

     (Born April 4, 1963) -- It's easy to wonder if Dale Hawerchuk remembers his time in Buffalo for when he had the chance to exhale.

     Hawerchuk was one of the best junior hockey players in Canada's history. In his last year with Cornwall, he scored 183 points in 72 games, and added 35 points in 19 playoff games. Cornwall won back-to-back Memorial Cups. No wonder he was the first player taken in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft by the Winnipeg Jets.

     Hawerchuk may have been 18 when he arrived in Winnipeg. He had 103 points in his first season, and helped the Jets improve by 48 points -- the largest one-season gain in NHL history. At one point Hawerchuk had five straight 100-point seasons with the Jets, including a 130-point season in 1984-85.

     Hawerchuk carried the load of the Jets' hopes for years, knowing that his team wasn't likely to catch some great Edmonton and Calgary teams in that era. He was sent to Buffalo in a large trade at the Entry Draft that famous was completed in a men's room of an arena (the general managers wanted privacy). Phil Housley was the biggest name going to Winnipeg in the deal.

     Hawerchuk was a star with the Sabres for the next four seasons, scoring between 86 and 98 points each season. But injuries became a problem in 1994. He drifted through three more seasons before retiring in 1997.

     The classy center was inducted into the Sabres' Hall of Fame on November 8, 2011, when the new edition of the Jets returned to Buffalo for the first time.

--- Budd Bailey

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