Dave Semenko

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Dave Semenko
Dave Semenko 2016.jpg
Semenko in 2016
Born (1957-07-12)July 12, 1957
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Died June 29, 2017(2017-06-29) (aged 59)
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Edmonton Oilers
Hartford Whalers
Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL Draft 25th overall, 1977
Minnesota North Stars
WHA Draft 21st overall, 1977
Houston Aeros
Playing career 1977–1988

David John Semenko (July 12, 1957 – June 29, 2017) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player, coach, scout, and colour commentator. Semenko played for the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, and Toronto Maple Leafs as an enforcer. He protected Wayne Gretzky as an on-ice bodyguard, during the superstar's early career. Semenko won two Stanley Cups with the Oilers in 1984 and 1985. He was also the last player to score a goal in the World Hockey Association before it folded and merged with the NHL.

Following his retirement as a player, he became a radio commentator of Oilers' games. Semenko died on June 29, 2017, from liver and pancreatic cancer.

Career

Semenko played junior hockey for the Brandon Wheat Kings.[1] He was originally selected 25th overall in 1977 by the Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League and the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association.[2]

The Aeros traded Semenko to the Oilers just before their 1977–78 season.[2] He spent his first two professional years as a member of the Oilers in the WHA before the NHL–WHA merger.[3] He scored the final goal in WHA history in Game 6 of the 1979 Avco Cup finals, which the Oilers lost to the Winnipeg Jets.[4][2]

When the Oilers then joined the NHL, Semenko's rights were still held by the North Stars. The Oilers traded their second and third round picks in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft to acquire his rights from the North Stars who then drafted future hall-of-famer Neal Broten. The trade also gave the Oilers a third round pick, which was used to select future Oilers superstar Mark Messier.[2]

An acknowledged enforcer, he was Wayne Gretzky's on-ice bodyguard early in Gretzky's career in Edmonton, beginning in the WHA in 1978, and ending when Semenko was traded to Hartford in 1986.[2] Semenko is considered one of the toughest players ever in the NHL.[5][6][7][8] The protection offered by Semenko allowed Edmonton's stars—Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey—more freedom on the ice, contributing to the Oilers' Stanley Cup triumphs in 1984 and 1985.[9] After Gretzky won a car for being chosen as the MVP of the 1983 NHL All-Star game, he gifted the car to Semenko to show his appreciation for his on-ice work.[2]

He fought boxing legend Muhammad Ali in an exhibition on June 12, 1983.[9] The match was officially a draw after going three rounds, but the Associated Press reported that Ali was not seriously trying and was just toying with Semenko.[2]

After brief stops with the Hartford Whalers and Toronto Maple Leafs, he retired following the 1987–88 season. He finished his 575-game NHL career with 65 goals, 153 points, and 1175 penalty minutes.[10] Semenko also recorded 70 fights over his career.[2]

Retirement and death

After retiring, Semenko became a colour commentator on Oilers radio broadcasts and was an assistant coach with the Oilers during the 1996–97 season.[11] He also served as a professional scout for the team from 1997 until 2015.[3]

Semenko died on June 29, 2017, 13 days before his 60th birthday and shortly after being diagnosed with liver and pancreatic cancer.[12][2] His funeral was held at Rogers Place, which was open for the public to attend.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1974–75 Brandon Wheat Kings WCHL 12 2 1 3 12 4 0 0 0
1975–76 Brandon Wheat Kings WCHL 72 8 5 13 194 5 0 0 0
1976–77 Brandon Wheat Kings WCHL 61 27 33 60 265 16 3 4 7 61
1977–78 Brandon Wheat Kings WCHL 7 10 5 15 40
1977–78 Edmonton Oilers WHA 65 6 6 12 140 5 0 0 0 8
1978–79 Edmonton Oilers WHA 77 10 14 24 158 11 4 2 6 29
1979–80 Edmonton Oilers NHL 67 6 7 13 135 3 0 0 0 2
1980–81 Edmonton Oilers NHL 58 11 8 19 80 8 0 0 0 5
1980–81 Wichita Wind CHL 14 1 2 3 40
1981–82 Edmonton Oilers NHL 59 12 12 24 194 4 0 0 0 2
1982–83 Edmonton Oilers NHL 75 12 15 27 141 15 1 1 2 69
1983–84 Edmonton Oilers NHL 52 6 11 17 118 16 5 5 10 44
1984–85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 69 6 12 18 172 14 0 0 0 39
1985–86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 69 6 12 18 141 6 0 0 0 32
1986–87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 5 0 0 0 0
1986–87 Hartford Whalers NHL 51 4 8 12 87 4 0 0 0 15
1987–88 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 2 3 5 107
WHA totals 142 16 20 36 298 16 4 2 6 37
NHL totals 575 65 88 153 1175 73 6 6 12 208

Awards and achievements

Career transactions

1977: Selected by the Minnesota North Stars in the 2nd round, 25th overall during the 1977 NHL Amateur Draft.

May, 1977: Selected by the Houston Aeros in the 2nd round, 21st overall during the 1977 WHA Amateur Draft.

November, 1977: Traded to the Edmonton Oilers by Houston in exchange for future considerations.

June 9, 1979: Reclaimed by Minnesota from Edmonton during the 1979 NHL Expansion Draft.

August 9, 1979: Traded to Edmonton by Minnesota in exchange for Edmonton's 2nd round pick (Neal Broten) and 3rd round pick (Kevin Maxwell) in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft.

December 12, 1986: Traded to the Hartford Whalers by Edmonton in exchange for Hartford's 3rd round choice (Trevor Sim) in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft.

September 8, 1987: Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Bill Root.

References

  1. ^ "Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Players By Team -- Brandon Wheat Kings". www.legendsofhockey.net. Retrieved 2017-06-30. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Harrison, Doug (June 29, 2017). "Ex-Oilers tough guy Dave Semenko dies of cancer at 59". CBC Sports. Retrieved June 29, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Dillman, Lisa (June 29, 2017). "Dave Semenko, two-time Stanley Cup winner, dies at 59". NHL.com. Retrieved June 30, 2017. 
  4. ^ The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association, p.241, McLelland and Stewart, Toronto, ON, ISBN 0-7710-8947-3
  5. ^ "Toughest fighters". The Hockey News. 2010-07-07. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  6. ^ Goss, Nicholas (2014-01-24). "Wayne Gretzky Knew To Retire When Opponents Warned Him Before A Hit | NHL". NESN.com. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  7. ^ "Edmonton Oilers Legends: Dave Semenko". Oilerslegends.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  8. ^ "Let's Talk Hockey: 50 Wonderful Debates - Phil Schlenker - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2016-07-06. 
  9. ^ a b [1]
  10. ^ [2]
  11. ^ "'A worthy champion': Dave Semenko, the Edmonton Oilers enforcer who served as Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard, dies at 59". National Post. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  12. ^ "Oilers Entertainment Group -- Statement on the passing of Dave Semenko". NHL.com. Retrieved 2017-06-29. 
  13. ^ Cherry, Don. "Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff". Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  14. ^ Russell, Kent. "I Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised a Timid Son". Vintage. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 
  15. ^ "The Great One: The Complete Wayne Gretzky Collection". FENN-M&S. Retrieved 30 September 2016. 

External links

  • Biographical information and career statistics from Eliteprospects.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
  • Profile at hockeydraftcentral.com
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