At the age of 59, former Edmonton Oiler winger and enforcer Dave Semenko lost his battle with cancer and has passed away.
The team announced the news on Thursday and made the following statement:
It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Oilers legend Dave Semenko after a short, but courageous battle with cancer. Dave will be remembered as a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, fan favourite and dear friend to so many. His legendary toughness on the ice is surpassed only by his kindness and caring for others, and his equally legendary wit and sense of humour.
Our hearts go out to Dave’s family and many friends.
Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler.
His Oilers Career
In Edmonton, Semenko was a true legend. While he wasn’t the offensive dynamo the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jari Kurri, Glenn Anderson or Paul Coffey, he was there to patrol the ice for these stars and in doing so, became somewhat of a star of his own. He gave the Oilers’ superstars the freedom to do what they do best and without him, some could argue that the Oilers don’t see the same level of success.
Semenko won back-to-back Stanley Cups as a member of the Oilers in 1984 and 1985. He began his career with the Oilers in the WHA in 1977 and was with the franchise until 1986 when he moved the Hartford Whalers and Toronto Maple Leafs to finish off his on-ice career.
He posted 65 goals and 153 points and 1,175 penalty minutes in 575 career games.
After Semenko hung up his skates, he became a color commentator on Oilers radio broadcasts and an assistant coach with the Oilers during the 1996-97 season. For the last number of years, he worked as a professional scout with the team.
Semenko Was Tough as Nails
There is no doubt, even if his battle with cancer was not a terribly long one, he fought, just as he did on the ice. Semenko wasn’t just an enforcer, he was among the toughest men to ever play in the NHL and did so during an era where every team had a roster stacked with tough guys.
It has been said that Semenko didn’t just beat guys, he destroyed them. His combined strength, power and quickness was more than almost anyone could handle and it put Semenko in a class of his own. Ironically, it wasn’t a job Semenko was looking for, he just realized one day (while in a fight) he was good at it and it became something he did.
Maybe the all-time best shot of Semenko and Flames heel Tim Hunter. pic.twitter.com/BNie5pIMUH
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) June 29, 2017
His feuds with players like the Calgary Flames’ Tim Hunter were iconic. The Battle of Alberta at that time was so much more than it is today and in the regular season and playoffs, their battles were both nasty and respected among fans and the hockey community. Hunter was one of the few opponents who could go toe-to-toe with him.
This is a sad day for the hockey world and for Oilers fans. While he was mostly behind the scenes, Semenko was very much a part of the everyday happenings with the team and he’ll be missed. For a guy known to be as tough as they come, he was actually one of the kindest people, always ready to joke and use his dry sense of humor.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”