When you think of players, coaches, and members of the Edmonton Oilers organization who have made positive contributions to the Oilers and the community, names such as Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Glen Sather and Connor McDavid often come to mind. However, the one member of the Oilers organization who may have had the single biggest impact on Oilers fans and the city of Edmonton may have been the late Joey Moss.
On Sept 28, 2021, the Oilers honoured Moss with a special statue to recognize his contributions to the team and the community. Originally hired to help in the Oilers dressing room for the 1984-85 season, Moss was recommended for the position by his friend Gretzky who had an aunt who was also mentally challenged. Gretzky wanted to help his friend, so he asked coach and general manager Glen Sather if the team could find a position for Moss. Recognizing how well Moss fit in with the players, coaches and trainers, Gretzky eventually helped Moss get a similar job with the Edmonton Football Club. Moss served both teams for over 35 years until his passing in October of 2020.
Moss Inspired the Community and the Country
Moss was a role model to those with Down Syndrome and their families. He received the NHL Alumni Association’s “Seventh Man Award” in 2003 in recognition of outstanding behind-the-scenes service to the league. He was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in November 2012 and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame on May 29, 2015. He will also be remembered for his involvement with the Special Olympics, the Edmonton Down Syndrome Society and the Winnifred Stewart Association.
The Oilers organization unveiled the new statue of Moss, depicting him giving a high five, which is something he always did with the team’s players. The statue was placed inside the dressing room, close to where he stood as the players left the room to go on the ice. At the morning press conference on the day of the statue unveiling, McDavid was asked to share some of his thoughts about Moss and the Oilers’ tribute to him. “To have a little statue there is a great reminder for us as players and the staff,” Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid told reporters. “Everyone on the staff was so close to him as well. The whole city misses him. We certainly miss him as players and today’s a special day to unveil that statue.”
Teams don’t often ice a veteran line-up for their second preseason game of the season, however, this game against the Seattle Kraken was special. The players on the Oilers who knew Moss wanted to pay tribute to him by playing in the game on the day he was honoured by the organization. It also marked the first time the Oilers got to play in front of their home fans since March of 2019.
September 28 – A Great Day to Honour Moss
It’s fitting that the Oilers honoured Moss on Sept 28th. This date is also one of the most important in Canadian hockey history as Team Canada defeated the Soviets on Sep 28, 1972, in the original Canada/USSR Summit Series. 2022 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Paul Henderson’s famous goal scored in the final minute of the final game of the series. People across Canada fondly remember listening to Bob Cole call the game on radio and Foster Hewitt handling the TV play-by-play duties.
It seemed like the country stood still that day, and we all held our breath until Henderson scored the game and series winner. One memory that stands out is watching Canada’s Peter Mahovlich pat Vladislav Tretiak on the pads after the winning goal was scored. Mahovlich, always a gentleman, wanted to show Tretiak respect for the outstanding Soviet goalie’s play throughout the series. Many people still remember where they were on Sept 28, 1972. What are your memories of Team Canada 1972? Or is your favourite Team Canada moment Gretzky to Mario Lemieux in the 1987 Canada Cup or Sidney Crosby’s Golden Goal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics?
D. Edward Bochon covers the Edmonton Oilers. His background is in marketing writing where he worked with the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Football Club (now known as the Elks), and the Edmonton Rush of the NLL.