Dwayne Mandrusiak and Joey Moss — Joey Moss and Dwayne Mandrusiak.
The two were synonymous with the Edmonton Football Team and worked together for over 30 years in the Alberta capital prior to Moss passing away at age 57 in October.
It was Wayne Gretzky who called Mandrusiak as a reference for Moss to be hired by the franchise. The Great One offered to pay his wage, but Mandrusiak insisted the team do it just like any other member of the organization.
“He was an influence on not only my family but almost every guy in that locker room that came in and actually stayed for awhile,” Mandrusiak said on TSN radio 1260 in Edmonton.
Edmonton training camp didn’t officially start until Moss arrived. The Oilers’ season would end and he would take a couple weeks of holidays, usually go on a trip, and return for the football season.
“Whatever coach it was (at the time) would call everybody up and Joe would sing both anthems. One year we dressed him up as the Statue of Liberty and then he went inside and came back out in red and white leotards with a Canadian flag around his neck, and he was Captain Canada,” Mandrusiak said.
Longtime Oilers’ equipment manager Lyle “Sparky” Kulchisky warned Mandrusiak that Moss was smarter than anyone would think when he started working for Edmonton’s CFL team in the mid-1980s. The players weren’t fortunate enough to be provided with the same fair warning.
“One time he got thrown into the cold tub and he said he lost a dollar, by the time the day was finished he had $20 bucks because guys were giving him money. He looked at me and winked. I was like, ‘You’re so smart,'” Mandrusiak said.
Moss would stay at Mandrusiak’s house for training camp and for a couple of years he spent the entire summer there. Part of the reason was to save the Moss family from being woken up early in the morning when the two dedicated men would head to Commonwealth Stadium for work.
“We’d come into the house and he’d open the door and yell, ‘I’m home, sweetheart!’ He’d go over and kiss my wife and pat her on the hand. I’d be bringing stuff in from the car and he would have gone to the fridge already and opened two beers to make sure that we had one,” Mandrusiak said.
“We’d go downstairs and watch James Bond for a while, and I would say Joey give me your clothes I’m going to wash them. He would sit there in his Homer Simpson tighty-whities on the couch, put his feet on the coffee table and put a beer on his belly.”
Those who spent time in Edmonton’s locker room treated Moss just like everyone else. The man who served 49 years as the equipment manager believes Moss was an integral part of the organization. Moss was with Edmonton’s football team for five Grey Cup titles.
“A player would get cut and he would go over there and put his arm around him and talk to him. The rest of us would be afraid to go over there,” Mandrusiak said. “When I had my assistants and they would bug me I used to say, ‘I would trade you all for another Joey Moss, the problem is there’s only one.'”