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Oilers alumni remember Dave Semenko

Paul Coffey, Charlie Huddy and Kevin Lowe recall their fond moments with Dave Semenko

by Staff /

With the sudden news regarding the passing of Oilers alumnus Dave Semenko, his former teammates shared some comments and stories.

Video: IN MEMORY | Dave Semenko

Read them below.

Video: Remembering Semenko with Lowe, Huddy and Coffey 

Paul Coffey, former Oilers defenceman and Hockey Hall of Fame inductee:

"Semenk was a special guy. We know that. We had the legacy that the early teams built in Edmonton. We had the Waynes and the Marks and the Jarris and Grant and Kevin and Andy - guys like that - but Dave was the guy that made it fun. He made it safe to go play with the big guys. Going to Philadelphia, going to the Islanders, playing against the tough teams and allowing myself and all the skilled players on that team to do what they did best. He was great at it.

His wit and his candor was with him right to the end.

I had the pleasure of being with Dave and playing with Dave. There wasn't a fight he didn't win. Unfortunately, this wasn't his fight to win. It's a terrible disease. He's the biggest guy I've seen taken down that fast and that was sad but he did it with dignity. He was just a real good guy.

My first experience with Semenk was in my first training camp in Jasper, Alberta in 1980. I was there as a young, shy kid, and an early draft pick really trying to fit in. We're all sitting outside the restaurant's bar area and Semenk says, 'You want to make some friends?' and I said, 'Yeah.' And he said, 'Why don't you buy everyone a round?' And I said, 'No problem.'

Video: Paul Coffey's memories of teammate Dave Semenko

So, the beer came and at the time it was Olympia beer, and it cost $50 bucks. I was a little devastated, it cost a lot of money. Semenk, like only he can, looked at me and said, 'Yeah, but look at all the friends you've made.'

That was my introduction to him and just what a great guy he was, a great teammate. The stories go on and on and a lot of them will come out and all of us tell them in different ways but he was just a very, very, very special guy.

For those of you in the media that have seen him walk around here in this last year and a half or two years with the Oilers, he's always been an Oiler. Scouted with them for years but never been happier than he's been in the last year or so in his position he had with the team. He carried that flag with dignity right to the end and was a fan favourite for a reason. Not because he was one of the toughest guys in his era, but just because he was very approachable and reachable. As good as Wayne was, Semenk was the same in the dressing room and a player on the ice.

He'll definitely be missed."

Charlie Huddy, former Oilers defenceman and current Winnipeg Jets Assistant Coach:

"So many stories about Semenk and I was fortunate to have him as a teammate from when I got here in the early '80s and obviously a real close friend. He was also a neighbour that lived about ten minutes away from where I was. I was fortunate to drive him to the rink a few times here and there and drive him back home and things like that, so we got to know each other pretty good.

He was just a real witty guy and the stories go on and on about Semenk - about how good of a teammate he was and made all of us safer on the ice when we were out there playing. I don't think I saw him lose any fight. There were some tough guys back then and he wasn't backing down. He was proud to do his job and he did it with the best of them.

One story that I remember was once Semenk got traded to Toronto. I remember going back for the puck and I knew he was coming. I was expecting a big hit and all of a sudden, I heard him yell, "I'm coming, look out!'

Video: Charlie Huddy reflects on teammate Dave Semenko

I got the puck and I probably skated as fast as I could. I don't think he had the intentions of hitting me, was just giving me a good heads-up on it.

He's going to be missed around here. I was fortunate to come to Game 6 against Anaheim and I was up in Daryl's box and Semenk was up there. We were chatting for a while and he was taking us around and we had to go to another box to get introduced in between periods. Semenk was the only guy walking around with no dog tags on, no nothing. Everybody else had security tags on and they were tapping away.

I go, 'Semenk, everybody's got security tags on,' and he goes, 'No no no, I don't need those. I just go wherever I want. Nobody questions me, nobody does anything.'

He pretty much owned the place. Nobody said anything to him. It was a great experience. I was fortunate to get some time with him.

In closing, he's going to be missed by all of us and obviously all the fans."

Kevin Lowe, former Oilers defenceman and current Oilers Entertainment Group Vice Chair:

"Without overstating anything, the greatest of all-time or up in the building in Rogers. As Coff alluded to, those greats couldn't have done what they did without the support and aid of Dave Semenko. And I say that with the greatest deal of sincerity because of what he provided on the ice and the message he delivered to the opposition and, he was a good hockey player.

As he pointed out many times, he scored a bunch of points in junior and did have a hat trick in the NHL. He was actually Player of the Week one week. But it was really his presence in the dressing room. He really kept us all grounded. He had an incredible wit and reminded us who we all are. He didn't allow for our heads to get any bigger than they were.

He loved what he did this past year. it was his first year he wasn't scouting and he was an ambassador. I think the first ever Oilers ambassador. We had so many comments from out customers and employees about how fortunate they were to work with him. And he was so happy. He was happy not traveling and really happy with the new building and team. He was looking forward to the coming years.

I'm going to really miss him."

Statement from Mark Messier, Oilers captain from 1988 to 1991: 

"The news of Dave passing this morning literally took my breath away. I loved Semenk like we all did. He was a great teammate, a loyal friend, a loving father, and a worthy champion. Rest in peace my friend."

Statement from Wayne Gretzky, Oilers captain from 1983 to 1988 and current Oilers Entertainment Group Partner & Vice Chair: 

"One of the first Oilers I met in 1978, I didn't know at the time the impact he would have in my life and my career. He was the toughest player I knew and yet the biggest Teddy Bear you would ever know. A beloved Oiler that will be missed dearly because of his kind heart and funny sense of humour. He made us all better people. RIP #27, thanks for your friendship."

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