Friends and former Oilers remember beloved local sports figure Joey Moss

·3 min read

Reaction from across Edmonton and the hockey world is pouring in for beloved local sports figure Joey Moss.

Moss, 57, died on Monday afternoon. He was a locker room attendant for the Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton Football Team for decades and was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Moss, who was born with Down syndrome, got his start with the Oilers during the 1984-85 season after Wayne Gretzky noticed him catching a bus in the winter and convinced the team's general manager, Glen Sather, to find a role for him in the locker room.

Gretzky told CBC Edmonton Tuesday he has heard from many other former Oilers talk about how much the longtime local sports presence did for all of them.

"He's a special young man," Gretzky.

"He was a close friend and he made me smile each day and those are things I won't forget."

Gretzky quickly developed a bond with Moss, partly because he had an aunt in his family who also had Down syndrome. The two lived together for a year and a half while Gretzky played for the Oilers. But his memories of Moss don't just revolve around what he did for the Oilers, Gretzky said, adding that Moss was an inspiration for parents of children with disabilities.

"As much as Joey did for all of us, and he did a lot … [he] gave their kids opportunities and I think that's what people are most thankful about," Gretzky said.

Moss was also remembered by former members of the Oilers' training staff who shared their condolences and memories of him on Tuesday.

"I really feel like he made everyone in that room a better person when he left that room," said former equipment manager Lyle 'Sparky' Kulchisky, who said he was thankful to see Moss in hospital on Sunday to say goodbye.

Former head equipment-manager Barrie Stafford added that the team's players and staff were energized by Moss throughout his more than 30-year career with the team.

"He wasn't afraid to bark back at any player, it didn't matter who they were whether it was the coach or Wayne or whoever," Stafford said.

"He was just a ball of joy and happiness and he passed that on all the time."

Mayor Don Iveson was emotional when talking about Moss' death on Tuesday, calling it heartbreaking news for the city.

"As mayor, I got to meet him a number of times and (he's) just a delightful human being, and it's sad," Iveson said.

"He was a great guy, so the loss is deeply felt in our city today."

Min Dhariwal/CBC News
Min Dhariwal/CBC News

During his life, Moss was honoured with the NHL Alumni Association's "Seventh Man Award" for behind-the-scene efforts in the lives of others, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and a mural in Edmonton for his work with both of the city's major sports teams.

Twitter users shared their own memories of Moss on Tuesday, both as an inspirational and motivating figure, and as a community member in Edmonton.