Butch Goring did his job on Tuesday night, showing up at MSG Networks’ studios in Manhattan as an analyst for Game 4 of the Islanders-Capitals first-round playoff series.
But doing so was not easy, because he was thinking about Dale Hawerchuk, whom he last spoke to that morning, shortly before his death at 57 of stomach cancer.
“It certainly made it a little bit difficult to concentrate,” Goring said, “especially with so many tweets out there and texts, and that picture of [Stars coach] Rick Bowness in tears, so there were a lot of emotions involved in that.”
Hawerchuk’s best playing days were with the Winnipeg Jets in the 1980s, around the time Goring was winning four Stanley Cups with the Islanders.
Goring is from Winnipeg and knew Hawerchuk well.
“Dale was a really good guy,” Goring said. “He did a lot of charity work and he was just the type of guy who when you’re associated with him he seems to be able to bring the best out of everybody.
“He just had a very calm way about him, yet he had a little bite to his game and his conversations, so he knew when to have fun and take a jab at you. But overall he was just a genuine, really good guy.”
Goring knew Hawerchuk was ill, but he did not know how close he was to death when Hawerchuk called on Tuesday to check in.
“I didn’t realize he was going to die three hours later when I was talking to him,” Goring said, “but here’s a guy basically on his death bed, he knows he’s on his last legs, and he calls me and asks me how I’m doing.
“How many people would do that? I just don’t know of anybody. Most people would shut everybody out and go on their own way. Dale was just that kind of guy that he always thought about everyone else except for himself. That was the unique thing about him.”
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