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Dave Semenko (1957 – 2017)

by Kirk Fox

Former Edmonton Oilers winger known as Wayne Gretzky’s on-ice bodyguard…

Dave Semenko, the former Edmonton Oilers winger known as Wayne Gretzky’s on-ice bodyguard, died Thursday, June 29, 2017, of cancer, according to multiple news sources. He was 59.

The Edmonton Oilers announced his death.


 ”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,” the Oilers said in a statement.

“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.”

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Semenko won two Stanley Cup championships with the legendary Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s. He played on a line with Gretzky and Jari Kurri. He helped clear space on the ice for the Oiler’s Hall of Fame offensive players. He helped the team win the Cup back to back, in 1984 and 1985.

According to CBC Sports, when Gretzky took home MVP honors from the 1983 NHL All-Star Game, he gave the car he won to Semenko to show his appreciation for his linemate’s work on the ice.

“He was known as a goon or a rock-head, but the ironic thing was he was pleasant, witty and gentle,” Gretzky was quoted as saying in a story that appeared on greatesthockeylegends.com. “He would never hurt anyone, and it used to always surprise us when he actually would fight.”

Semenko was considered one of the best fighters in NHL history. He finished his career with 65 goals, 153 points, and 1,175 penalty minutes in 575 NHL regular-season games. According to hockeyfights.com, he was involved in 70 fights during his time in the league.

He played over seven seasons with Edmonton and then played for Hartford and Toronto. He retired after the 1987-1988 season.

After his playing career, he became a color commentator on Oilers radio broadcasts and was an assistant coach with the Oilers during the 1996-97 season.

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