The Great One and Joey Moss were together for years in Edmonton.
Wayne Gretzky is beloved in Edmonton, however, Moss spent more time in the City of Champions. Gretzky joked about the Oilers trading him before Moss when the famous deal was made with the Los Angeles Kings.
For six of the 10 seasons Gretzky played in Edmonton, Moss was with the team as a locker room attendant, starting part-time in 1982. Just one season later he earned a full-time gig. Moss had the same disability as Gretzky’s aunt, so the superstar felt an instant connection the young man.
“When Glen Sather was kind enough to let Joey jump on board, come and work in the locker room, we didn’t anticipate him being there for 35 years with not only the Oilers but, of course, how nice the Edmonton Football Club has been to Joey. Joey was a lifer,” Gretzky said during a videoconference.
“It was a honour for me to know him. He was a great friend, he lived with me off and on for a lot of years. We spent a lot of time together. He loved Edmonton, not only the Oilers but the Eskimos too. I’m not sure there is a comparable anywhere.”
Moss passed away on Monday at age 57 after suffering a broken hip, which required surgery. He had also developed Alzheimer’s. The Moss family hopes his legacy lives on with Edmonton’s sports teams and Gretzky wants the citizens of the Alberta capital to decide how the beloved man should be remembered.
“The Oilers always do everything first class. How they’ll honour Joey? I think that this is one time where you reach out to people of Edmonton, the fans of Alberta and the Oilers, and get a sense and a feel,” Gretzky said.
“Do people want a statue? Do people want a banner? Whatever the people, and the fans, and the Oilers decide to do, it’ll be first class. Something that we’ll remember for a long time. We got to figure out the right way to honour him that’ll last a lifetime — he deserves that.”
Gretzky helped Moss secure the same job with the Edmonton Football Team. He called longtime equipment man Dwayne Mandrusiak to put in a word for Moss. Mandrusiak brought Moss into the football fold in 1986.
“He has more championships probably than Hugh Campbell. He’s got a lot of jewelry,” Gretzky said with a smile.
Moss was with the Oilers for five Stanley Cup championships and Edmonton’s football team for five Grey Cup titles. That equals Campbell with 10 total rings in their respective careers, though Moss left a legendary mark for the person he was above anything else.
“We made people excited by winning championships. He made people happy who might not have been hockey fans,” Gretzky said.
“He gave them hope for their kids. What he did was raise awareness, to show people that somebody with a disability can still be part of society. I’m not sure his impact we’ll really realize.”