Edmonton has lost an icon. The family of Joey Moss, the longtime Edmonton Oilers locker room attendant, announced his passing at the age of 57 years old on Monday, Oct. 26. Amongst the Oilers’ career leaders in games attended, and definitely in anthems sung, Moss was a staple at any Oilers game.
Regardless of where you were sitting in the old arena or the new one, you could spot him during the national anthem, singing his heart out behind the Oiler bench. Introduced to the team by none other than Wayne Gretzky himself, when the Oiler great was dating his sister Vicki, he became a fixture in the dressing room from that day forward. Number 12 of 13 Moss children, and born with Down Syndrome, none would ever have guessed he’d become the most famous member of that family.
An Integral Part of Oiler History
Joey was a part of everything about the Oilers. He was there in the early days of the dynasty years, starting in 1984-85 and continued his role throughout the many highs and lows that have followed. He was cheering them on 1990, the year Mark Messier’s team captured an unlikely fifth Stanley Cup after the Great One was gone. He was there in 1997 when Todd Marchant scored a brilliant, breakaway goal to beat the highly favoured Dallas Stars in overtime, and when Fernando Pisani scored shorthanded to force a Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
For virtually every key moment in Oilers franchise history, Joey was there. You didn’t need to know him personally to feel like he was your friend. He was the embodiment of the true fan, 100 percent loyal, always upbeat, and loved by all. The team honoured his years of dedication when they closed out the dated Rexall Place Arena. He made an impression on virtually every player to ever don the orange and blue, not to mention the green and gold of the Edmonton Football Team where he could just as commonly be found during summers in the Canadian Football League season.
I kid you not, this is as profound a loss to the Edmonton sporting community as it would be had Gretzky himself passed away. Joey was beloved by all. There is already an Oilers preseason tournament named after him, the Joey Moss Cup, but he deserves something more honouring his name. It hasn’t always been easy being an Oiler fan in the 2000s, with the team missing the playoffs far more often than not, but it was for Joey, and I expect during the down years, his presence in the locker room lightened the mood when things were at their worst.
Joey Moss Was a Fixture at Oiler Games
Moss outlasted Gretzky, and Messier, and every player they were traded for. He was there from the time Ryan Smyth was a rookie to his farewell game. There are a number of banners hanging in Rogers Place, honouring the great contributions of Oiler greats like Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Grant Fuhr. There are other banners honouring the off-ice part of Oiler history like legendary broadcaster Rod Phillips and the 3,542 games he called. Moss deserves his place among those stars.
He was awarded the “Seventh Man Award” by the NHL Alumni association, presented to him by none other than the Great One himself. He received the Edmonton Mayor’s Award in 2007, has a mural in his image in downtown Edmonton, and is an inductee in the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. In 2012 he was a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, an award that honours “significant contributions and achievements by Canadians.”
In a normal year, this news would have come early on in the NHL season, the team perhaps learning of Joey’s passing on a road trip, between games, or toughest yet, shortly before puck drop at home. Had he not broken a hip in a fall on July 28, Joey Moss would have been a part of the Stanley Cup playoff bubble over the past months here in Edmonton, seeing jubilant Tampa Bay Lightning players lifting the Cup over their heads, perhaps even taking part in the celebrations himself. You can be sure though, that the next time fans fill Rogers Place, there will be an epic ovation in his honour.
Joey made Oiler games better. He made Edmonton better. His upbeat attitude and diehard loyalty are an inspiration to people of all abilities, and with his passing, the world is a lesser place. I have no doubt both pro franchises in Edmonton will honour him properly, because as they know better than any, Joey Moss was the best of us. In lieu of flowers, the Moss family is asking that donations be made in Joey’s honour to the Winnifred Stewart Association, with whom Joey had a long relationship.
Hockey Fan since birth, and follower of all things Oilers and Kraken.