'I want to live to tell this story': Dale Hawerchuk fighting for his life

Barrie Colts Head Coach Dale Hawerchuk is pictured in this undated photo. (CTV News Barrie)

Barrie Colts head coach Dale Hawerchuk is fighting for his life, battling stomach cancer, TSN reported on Monday.

The 56-year-old announced in September he was taking a leave of absence to deal with "some health issues and will be taking the time he needs to deal with that situation." The team did not provide any more details at the time.

TSN Senior Correspondent Rick Westhead reported that the NHL Hall of Famer is undergoing chemotherapy and is optimistic.

"The chemo has hit me pretty hard. I do it one week, and it breaks the body down, and then the next week, I take a break and build my body up so I can do it again. I have to do that for two months."

Hawerchuk played in the NHL for 16 years before becoming the head coach for the Colts. Howie Campbell is co-owner of the team and a close friend of Hawerchuk. "He's very positive." Campbell admits he's holding onto hope that his friend will return to the Colts bench. "He actually walked into the building here yesterday. He's his usual self. He's a little lighter."

The Barrie coach is also assuring his fans of his determination to remain optimistic. "For some reason, the Lord put me in this kind of fight, and I'm ready to fight it," Hawerchuk said in an interview last weekend with TSN. "I'm ready to fight it. I want to live to tell the story."

Dale Hawerchuk is the Colts longest-serving coach with nine seasons under his belt. The team has since announced Warren Rychel, former owner and GM of the Windsor Spitfires, is taking over for the team in his absence.