JONES: Edmonton Oilers enter think tank over ways to memorialize Joey Moss

The High Level Bridge is lit in blue and orange, of the Edmonton Oilers, as well as green and gold of the Edmonton Footbal Club, in honour of shared locker-room attendant Joey Moss, who died Monday age 57. Greg Southam / Postmedia

Share Adjust Comment Print

Something significant. Something substantial. Something soon.

That’s the challenge for Edmonton to honour and celebrate the memory of Joey Moss and create lasting legacies to preserve and extend the outpouring of emotions embracing the city and most of the hockey world since his death Monday.

Considering the remarkable reaction since the passing of Moss and the testimonials to the inspiration he provided for Down syndrome individuals and their families while working as a dressing-room attendant for both the NHL and Canadian Football League teams, a significant and substantial response should be expected.

While members of the community and hockey fans throughout the country began making suggestions Tuesday, Edmonton Oilers vice-chairman and CEO Bob Nicholson had a selection of team captains from the Joey Moss Era on a conference call to engage them in seeking inspiration on what to do.

“It was really energizing,” said Nicholson. “No question, we’re going to do something special to keep his memory alive and preserve the feelings that we all saw embraced in the short time since Joey passed away.

“We had tons of great ideas — about 15 real good ones involving what we could do in the rink, outside the building, in the community and involving programs for people facing the same challenges he faced and conquered.

“I think it’s important that we communicate with the Down syndrome society, the football team, the City of Edmonton and the fans and citizens for their ideas. And most of all, I think we need to sit down with the Moss family in a few days to get their thoughts.

“I think we’d like to get down to three or four ideas and go from there.”

Some of the ideas:

• A statue of Joey with his hand on his heart belting out the national anthem and a scoreboard video component of Joey to accompany the singing of ‘O Canada.’

• A park, street or area named after him in the Ice District, perhaps where the statue could be placed.

• An empty seat with his name on it behind the Oilers bench where he sat to watch games.

• Naming the community arena after him.

• A program in his name to build opportunity for those facing similar Down syndrome challenges for many years to come.

• A Hall of Fame calibre display in his honour at some appropriate location featuring all his memorabilia.

Some might suggest all of the above.

One idea I’m particularly partial to is that of the statue, especially if it was in combination with other components.

“A statue is a great idea,” said former Oilers ownership group member Bruce Saville in an email response to the suggestion in the last line of my column in Monday’s editions.

“I have $1,000 to donate if someone gets it started,” offered Saville.

I don’t know what the going rate for a Gretzky-calibre statue might be, but wouldn’t it be amazing if it was funded entirely by fans, including dimes and nickels from kids’ piggy banks?

I reached out to the Moss family.

Sister Vikki, who was dating Gretzky and thus an inspirational component to Joey getting the Oilers and Ex-imos dressing room attendant jobs, like most everybody else, was blown away at the reaction in Edmonton.

“I am totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love in response to Joey’s passing,” she told me from her home in Beverley Hills, Calif. “Although the story started with Wayne, it ultimately became Edmonton’s story, as the city affectionately embraced him. Because Joey embodied what a person can achieve despite his medical condition, I think he should be honoured on his own. I think it should be a place where the community can come together and continue the celebration.

“Maybe a community centre/playground with a Joey Moss Museum on its premises,” she offered.

One wish of the family involves the Down syndrome people he leaves behind.

“I think the legacy is that Joey was a person with special needs and I’d like to see internships with clubs throughout all of North American professional sports,” said Adam Walker, the son of Joey’s 70-year-old sister, Pattie, and co-guardian. “I know half a dozen people from Joey’s home that could walk into Joey’s shoes and do what he did. His best friend, Craig, at the house would be one. He has the same charisma, the same happy face, the same work ethic.

“I think we all hope this doesn’t end with Joey’s passing.”

Another thing his nephew mentions is Joey’s unique memorabilia that includes his own masked pro-wrestling costume and an actual real championship belt given to him by Hulk Hogan and autographed by many superstars of the business. Joey loved pro wrestling.

“My mom and I packed up Joey’s room a few months ago and I’ve inventoried everything. There is such cool stuff that it would be great to have it on display somewhere.”

Near his statue, I’d suggest.

E-mail: tjones@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @byterryjones

Comments