Longtime NHLer and Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk is taking a leave of absence as head coach of the Barrie Colts for the upcoming season.
The Colts announced Tuesday that Hawerchuk is making the move for health reasons. The team did not specify the nature of Hawerchuk’s issues.
Hawerchuk, who is the winningest coach in Colts history, was going into his 10th season behind the bench.
“We are a tight and close family here and it’s difficult to have to make announcements like this,” said Colts president Howie Campbell in a statement Tuesday.
“Dale is facing some health issues and will be taking the time he needs to deal with that situation. Our best wishes and thoughts are with Dale and his family during this difficult time.”
Hawerchuk’s absense is expected to be for the season, but Campbell says they hope to have him back with the team as soon as possible.
“With seasoned veterans like Todd Miller and Bill Smith on the bench with Dale for many seasons, we’re confident we’ll have everything the team needs to have a great run this year. All of us want to see Dale back as soon as possible and we look forward to that day.”
No coach has won more games for the franchise than Hawerchuk, who owns a 305-269-22-16 record behind the Colts bench dating back to the 2010-11 season.
The 56-year-old had led the Colts to the OHL playoffs in six of his nine seasons, including a final appearance in 2012-13 where the Colts lost to London in seven games.
During his NHL career, Hawerchuk had 518 goals and 891 assists over 1,118 career games with Winnipeg, Buffalo, St. Louis and Philadelphia.
The entire Around the OHL team wishes Hawerchuk the best during this tough time. He joined the guys on the Around the OHL Podcast in December 2018.