Moss Pit TONIGHT bug

EDMONTON -- When Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final is played here Thursday, 18,370 fans will pack Rogers Place looking for the Edmonton Oilers to get their first win of the best-of-7 series against the Florida Panthers (8 p.m. ET; CBC, TVAS, SN, ESPN, ABC). 

Another 5,000-plus will be right outside the arena watching on a big screen. Officially, that area is called the Ford Tailgate Party in ICE District Plaza for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. But everyone knows it as The Moss Pit.

It’s just another reminder of how much of an impact Joey Moss had, and still has, on the Oilers franchise. 

Moss was a fixture in the Oilers locker room for more than three decades before he died at the age of 57 on Oct. 26, 2020, and his legacy is still very much alive today. 

Born with Down syndrome, Moss started working for the Oilers as a locker room attendant in the mid-1980s after meeting then-center Wayne Gretzky, and his influence remains through the performance of the Canada national anthem before games, the playing of the Edmonton victory song following wins, and the outdoor plaza.

“Joey was with the organization for a very long time,” said Tim Shipton, executive vice president of communications and gaming for the Oilers Entertainment Group. “Everybody remembers the story of Wayne Gretzky seeing Joey and making that introduction, and then Wayne bringing him into the fold and making him feel welcomed. Joey was with the organization a part of our dynasty teams in the ’80s and really became a huge fixture and role model for a fulfilling life for persons with disabilities and an icon in our city. 

“So, Joey to me is a part of the fabric which makes this organization special and he’s part of the fabric of the city of Edmonton and all of Northern Alberta. His legend continues to grow even in his passing. He’s someone that carries such a great legacy.”


Moss made an impression on Edmonton players he interacted with, and many would come back to visit him after they left and returned with a different organization. 

“I was around ‘Mosser’ for a little bit, but he was somebody that meant a lot to this room, meant a lot to the staff of this room,” Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. “When you talk about bringing energy, positivity, whether it was a tough day or a great day, he only made it better. He was great guy to have around.”

Moss was a big pro wrestling fan and would often have matches with players in the dressing room for a championship belt presented to him. He also considered himself a singer and would belt out the national anthem from his seat behind the Oilers bench at Rexall Place, the team’s original arena. It’s an image the team still displays on the scoreboard at Rogers Place. 

“He was always a positive light for this group,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. “When I first came in I knew about Joey Moss, then you get to meet him and you got to know him really well pretty quick. He was always joking around, always chirping at guys. He was a fun guy to be around no matter what you were going through. He was always an easy guy to come into the room and put a smile on your face.”

Moss statue

Along with the national anthem, Edmonton adopted Moss’ favorite song as their victory tune after his death: “La Bamba” by the Los Angeles-based band Los Lobos. 

“It was just to honor Joey,” McDavid said. “At the Oilers Christmas party he would sing ‘La Bamba’ every year. I’m not sure why that was. It was already tradition by the time I became an Oiler. It was just tradition and a little nod to Joe.”

The victory-song tradition got a boost from Oilers superfan Ben Stelter, who died in August 2022 from glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, at the age of 6. 

During Edmonton’s run to the Western Conference Final in 2022, Stelter was recorded saying, "Play ‘La Bamba,’ baby," following a win. The phrase took off and is still used by Oilers fans today. 

Moss would give players high-fives on the way out to the ice, and a bust commemorating those moments was placed on the way out of the Oilers dressing room at Rogers Place with a hand for the current members of the team to touch for good luck. 

“Players from every generation of this organization have such a great fondness and great love for Joey,” Shipton said. “He’s touched so many players from the banner guys (members of Edmonton’s Stanley Cup championship teams) all the way to guys on this current team that are competing for the Stanley Cup.”