EDMONTON, AB - Forever known as the Oilers protector on the ice, Dave Semenko's legacy will now also be immortalized off it with the Dave Semenko Legacy Project.
The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), in partnership with Sport Central, the National Hockey League (NHL) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA), announced the Semenko Legacy Project on Sunday. The initiative is devoted to providing equipment to minor athletes in order for them to participate in whichever sport they desire.
Video: 85 OILERS | Semenko Legacy Project
The announcement comes on the same day as the NHL Centennial Greatest Team Celebration, which saw the 1984-85 Oilers voted as the greatest team in National Hockey League history.
"The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation was absolutely thrilled to announce our contribution to the Dave Semenko Legacy Project in partnership with Sport Central," said EOCF Executive Director Natalie Minckler. "The EOCF is contributing $325,000 in partnership with the NHL and NHLPA which will be donated to Sport Central for these two special initiatives."
Sport Central, led by community-oriented individuals wanting to help acquire sporting equipment for children, has been able to provide over 135,000 low-income children with safe equipment since its beginning.
"I know that those funds will go a long way in getting kids into the sport of their choice," said Minckler.
Semenko's initiatives are coined Dave's Drive and Put a Lid on A Kid.
Dave's Drive is an equipment drive aimed at gathering equipment and donations, while Put a Lid on a Kid increases concussion prevention awareness by providing helmets to the minor athletes.
"In Dave's memory, we wanted to ensure that all those kids receiving those helmets knew how very special Dave was to our organization," said Minckler. "Each helmet has a special No. 27 on it."
Members of the Semenko family and 1984-85 Oilers were at Abbottsfield Recreation Centre, where the announcement took place, to comment.
"It's not the same without him here," said Oilers great Wayne Gretzky. "He was the guy that kept everybody together and kept everybody loose, but it's a great charity event."
Dave's brother, Brian Semenko, said Dave understood the nuances parents go through in order to give their children an opportunity to participate in sports.
"This is all about helping parents get their kids playing," he said. "It's very touching seeing Dave's name, kids running around and Dave's sticker on the helmets.
"It's a little overwhelming and unexpected but it's an honour."