The 50th Anniversary of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League will be celebrated in a number of ways this season. One of which is a countdown of the league’s 50 greatest players based solely on their QMJHL accomplishments. They stand out among 9511 players who played in the QMJHL over the past 50 years. Yours truly was part of the committee entrusted with the difficult task of making these selections.
The player ranked at No. 7 in the QMJHL’s 50-year history is Dale Hawerchuk.
The Toronto native only played two QMJHL seasons with the Cornwall Royals before becoming the first overall pick in the 1981 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets. Hawerchuk put up 103 and 183-point seasons as a 16 and 17-year-old with the Royals with the club winning the Memorial Cup in each of those two seasons.
At the 1981 Memorial Cup Tournament, Hawerchuk picked up eight goals and four assists in five games on his way to earning the Stafford-Smythe Trophy as tournament MVP. His eight goals remain a tournement record which has only been matched twice but never broken.
Hawerchuk did not miss a single game in his two seasons in the QMJHL, piling up 118 goals and 168 assists for 286 points in only 144 games. He added 80 points in 37 playoff games. He earned plenty of hardware, claiming the Michel-Brière Trophy and the Guy-Lafleur Trophy as regular season MVP (1980-81) and playoff MVP (1980), respectively. He remains the only player in QMJHL history to have won playoff MVP honours as a 16-year-old.
His 1,409 NHL points rank fourth in league history among QMJHL grads behind Mario Lemieux, Raymond Bourque and his former junior teammate, Doug Gilmour.
Since 2010, Hawerchuk has been the head coach of the OHL’s Barrie Colts and was inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame on March 15, 2001, before taking his rightful place in the Hockey Hall of Fame only a few months later.