Colts to raise Dale Hawerchuk banner in special pre-game ceremony on Saturday night

'We always have him in the back of our minds, but to honour him and see it and witness it is going to be special'

It’s not often Jacob Frasca isn’t thinking about Dale Hawerchuk.

It’s been two years since the former Barrie Colts head coach died of cancer, but the veteran centre admits his friend is always there with him whether he’s out there on the ice, on the bench or in the dressing room.

“Obviously, we’re going to have Dale in the back of our minds,” said Frasca, who along with the organization and his teammates will pay tribute to the longtime coach with a special pre-game ceremony Saturday night ahead of hosting the Peterborough Petes at Sadlon Arena.

“We always have him in the back of our minds, but to honour him and see it and witness it is going to be special.”

Hawerchuk joined the club as head coach in the 2010-11 season and spent 10 years with the organization, leading Barrie to an OHL final and four division championships.

His 305 wins make him the winningest coach in franchise history.

The Hockey Hall of Famer is widely recognized as one of the greatest players to ever lace up the skates after a storied 16-year NHL career that included stops in Winnipeg, Buffalo and Philadelphia. 

The Colts have tried twice previously to honour Hawerchuk, but the COVID pandemic put a hold on the tribute.

The special night will feature several guest speakers and video presentations before the Colts reveal an honourary Dale Hawerchuk banner that will hang in the rafters.

Just last weekend the city of Winnipeg, which Dale called his hockey home, and the Jets unveiled a statue of Hawerchuk just outside the Canada Life Centre in a special presentation that included family, friends, teammates and current Jets star and former Colt Mark Scheifele.

Now Barrie will pay tribute to all-time great one last time.

“It’s been a special time,” said Colts head coach Marty Williamson of seeing his friend honoured over these last two weeks. “I saw the unveiling of the statue there (in Winnipeg) and I heard Crystal (his wife) speak and now to just have something, just a goodbye from all of us here, is special.”

The ceremony is slated to begin just after 7:30 p.m., with the game against the Petes to follow.

Photos by Terry Wilson/OHL Images