1980s Edmonton Oil­ers en­forcer Dave Se­menko dies

Lodi News-Sentinel - - Local / Nation -

EDMONTON, Alberta — Dave Se­menko, the Edmonton Oil­ers tough guy who pro­tected Wayne Gret­zky dur­ing the 1980s, has died. He was 59.

He died in Edmonton af­ter a short bat­tle with cancer, the team said Thurs­day.

“His leg­endary tough­ness on the ice is sur­passed only by his kind­ness and car­ing for oth­ers, and his equally leg­endary wit and sense of hu­mor,” the Oil­ers said in a state­ment.

Se­menko was the body­guard for “The Great One” for parts of 10 sea­sons with the Oil­ers in the World Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion and NHL. He helped Edmonton win the Stan­ley Cup in 1984 and 1985.

“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,” Gret­zky said. “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 hu­mor. He made us all bet­ter peo­ple.”

In an era where hulk­ing en­forcers roamed the ice along­side the league’s top stars, Se­menko was one of the tough­est. And he had plenty of com­pe­ti­tion, of­ten go­ing toe-to-toe with the likes of Bob Probert, Basil McRae and Tim Hunter, who served a sim­i­lar role for the ri­val Flames.

Oil­ers ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Lowe, a star de­fense­man on Edmonton’s Stan­ley Cup cham­pion squads, called Se­menko the “Wayne Gret­zky of the tough guys” in his book “Cham­pi­ons.”

“He re­ally kept us all grounded,” Lowe said Thurs­day at a press con­fer­ence with some of Se­menko’s for­mer team­mates.

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