BUFFALO, N.Y. -- He's a legend in Winnipeg and now enshrined in the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame.
And so as Dale Hawerchuk addressed a crowd at First Niagara Center prior to Tuesday night's Jets-Sabres contest -- with both teams on the ice for the ceremony -- it became another highlight in what was a spectacular career.
"It's special," he said. "These two teams are the ones I spent the most time with in my career, so those two are definitely the closest to my heart.
"This is a great honour. But I'll only accept this as part of a team. We had a great group of guys from 1990-95, an incredible group of players. This only happens because of great ownership, great management, great coaches, great players and, of course, teammates that believe in you.
"Looking at both those teams on the ice, they're near and dear to my heart and seeing Winnipeg back in the league this year is very special."
Hawerchuk was drafted first overall by the Jets in 1981 and played nine years in Winnipeg before a blockbuster trade brought him to Buffalo in 1990 where he played until 1995 before winding up his career in St. Louis and Philadelphia and retiring in 1997.
He had 110 goals and 385 points with the Sabres after a superb career in Winnipeg that included the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1982. Hawerchuk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001 and ranks 18th on the NHL's career points list. He was 10th at the time of his retirement in 1997.
"When I was traded to Buffalo I wanted to do so well and please everyone," he said. "You certainly have to get over that quickly because you have to get back to what made you a great player."