Connect with us

Sports

Joey Moss bled Edmonton sports and taught a generation about vulnerability – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


EDMONTON — The players and coaches, so many of whom have been tribute tweeting over the past day, saw one side of Joey Moss. The behind closed doors, “Once an Oiler/Edmonton Football Team player, always an Oiler/Edmonton Football Team player,” view.

Us sportswriters, dressing room visitors for a select few hours of the week, we saw another. And the fans here in Edmonton — and across Canada — they saw some part of it all as well, from yet another angle.

But the people who really knew Joseph Neil Moss, who picked him up in the morning, shared a traditional game-day hot tub, or moved him in with their families for weeks at a time during training camps or road trips, were the training staff. People like Lyle “Sparky” Kulchisky, Dwayne Mandrusiak, Ken Lowe and Barrie Stafford — the equipment and medical staff who are the inner workings of the pro sports wristwatch — never rotated in and out the way coaches and players always do.

They saw it every day for a few decades, the impact Moss — who hailed from a local, musically-inclined family — had on 35 years of hockey and football players who passed through this city.

“We saw a side of Joe that was compassionate, but serious at times,” said 49-year Edmonton Football Team equipment man Mandrusiak. “Joe knew when things were not going well and you didn’t joke around. Whether it was vacuuming, doing the laundry or whatever it was, when it was time to go, he took his job seriously.

“But he’d also come up to you when you were having a bad day, put his arm around you and say ‘You’re OK with me.’ You had to smile.’”

null

The #Oilers organization is extremely saddened by the passing of our dear friend & colleague, the legendary Joey Moss.Once an Oiler, always an Oiler.RIP, Joey. pic.twitter.com/KJSkN9oO9W

null

The entire EE Football Team organization is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Joey Moss.Edmonton lost a hero today. Joey’s bravery, humor, strength, work ethic & perseverance in our dressing room & in our community left indelible impressions that will live with us all. pic.twitter.com/8ATs8ckQMS

At the time he was brought into the Oilers dressing room, Moss was better known to the organization as the 21-year-old younger brother of Wayne Gretzky’s then-girlfriend, singer Vikki Moss. It was an act of inclusion on the part of Gretzky, Glen Sather and the Oilers organization — giving a chance to the 12th of 13 kids born to Lloyd and Sophie Moss in a small home on Edmonton’s east side.

In the end, it was Joey who did all the giving, migrating over to the Edmonton Football Team dressing room and leaving behind a legacy that had Stafford’s phone alight since news of Joey’s passing broke on Monday night.

“Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky, Eric Brewer, Steve Staios, Ethan Moreau, Gretz, of course… I have over 200 text messages,” said Stafford. “Anyone in the inner circle has a feeling for the impact Joey had on people lives. How can such a small person have such a large impact? The sports community, the disability community… Is there a person with Down syndrome who has had this kind of an impact in our country? In any country?

“I do believe he’s an iconic Canadian.”

In the heartless world that pro sports can be, Joey became the goat in the horse barn, putting an arm around a player that had just been released, assuring him better days lie ahead, and leaving an impression that no coach, GM or teammate possibly could.

“He changed my life immensely,” Kulchisky said on Tuesday, the morning after Moss passed at an Edmonton hospital. “I was ignorant to Down syndrome – I didn’t understand it and I didn’t want to. He made me become a more patient, sensitive person.

“He made all of us — you included – better people. More understanding.”

As the rosters became fluid, as the once-mighty Oilers and the Edmonton Football Team took their turns at the bottom of the standings, their rosters churning through forgettable name after forgettable name, Moss was a rare constant.

You could look down on the Edmonton Football Team sidelines and ask, ‘Who is No. 76? He’s standing next to Joey.’ Or walking out of what seemed like a decade-long string of Oilers losses, you could think of Joey on the scoreboard belting out the anthem before the game, and there was at least one smile your team gave you that night.

Moss bled blue and orange by winter, green and gold by summer, teaching a generation of Edmonton sports fans about vulnerability, and putting it all out there even when you’re a bit off-key some of the time. Or all of the time.

null

Janet & I are saddened to learn about the passing of Joey Moss. Not only was Joey a fixture in the Edmonton dressing room, he was someone I truly considered a friend. We will miss you Joey and you will always live on through our memories. Our thoughts are with Joey’s loved ones.

null

With the greatest of all-time… and #99. Oil Country sure won’t be the same without you, Joey. Thanks for always brightening up any day and may you rest easy my friend. pic.twitter.com/p7yGRqTdbk

null

Someone who could brighten your day with just a smile or a wink. May you rest in peace Joey, you will be missed by so many. pic.twitter.com/ecuxIBiWPU

It’s OK to blindly love your team, win, lose or draw. And if you’re going to sing “O Canada” in front of 18,000 people and a national TV audience, you’d better not leave anything in the bag. His anthems were legendary, sung from a seat a few rows above the Oilers bench.

“He loved to sing and he loved to dance,” Stafford said. “My wife and her mother took tap dancing lessons. He went in one of their recitals and was the star performer, the hit of the recital. The thing that Joey did was, he gave pure joy to people. He made everyone smile… His two loves were dancing and singing, and they came naturally through his family.”

Along the way, he became a cornerstone of the teams, sent down the hall to the visitor’s dressing room to wish Mathieu Schneider a “Happy Hanukkah!” or to deliver the organizational handshake to a new husband or father. He was as welcome in the dressing rooms of every visiting CFL or NHL team as he was in Edmonton’s.

Part of that was due to his ability to fit in seamlessly.

In sports, if they’re not kidding around with you or pulling your leg, it’s because you haven’t been accepted yet. If they treat you with kid gloves it’s because you are seen to be on the outside, and the closer you get to the heart of a team the sharper your wits had better become.

“If they don’t mess with you, don’t tease you, they don’t like you,” said Mandrusiak.

“What struck me about Joey,” began long-time Edmonton sports columnist Cam Cole, “was how no one treated him like a ‘special needs’ guy. He was just a completely integrated part of the dressing room culture, going about his business, giving and taking chirps from the players. Like the time he was vacuuming the rug, in between reporters’ feet while John Muckler was doing a stand-up interview. Muck interrupted himself to say, ‘—- off, Joey,’ then continued his comments, and Joey simply kept vacuuming, a few feet away.

“He was a part of the scenery, a part of the mood, often happy, sometimes crabby like everyone else. One of the boys.”

Moss’ dancing, bellowing version of La Bamba was legendary inside those rooms, as Moss blasted out a brand of Karaoke that most of those elite athletes, with their muscles and macho, would never have the courage to attempt.

It was while he was dancing a few months back that his hip gave out. “He was dancing by the lunch table,” said Kulchisky. “His body just gave way.”

A broken hip, advancing Alzheimer’s and the pox that is this COVID-19 era combined to hand Joey a final few weeks he surely did not deserve, distanced in palliative care from those loved ones who would have loved to put an arm around him the way he did so many others, so many times.

By the time closed his eyes at age 57, Moss had lived perhaps 30 years longer than doctors would have predicted back in 1963.

“The football club and the Oilers kept him alive that long,” Kulchisky reckoned. “A lot of time, as Down syndrome people age, they just put them in front of a TV in the morning and call them for dinner. Joe woke up every day to a challenge. With the Oilers, at least 40 people a day were counting on him. He had a purpose, Joe.

“That’s what kept him alive, kept him going.”

Until Monday, when the song finally ended for Joseph Moss, Edmonton legend.

They come and they go, in this sports world where the speed of change seems to have quadrupled as my career passes the 30-year mark. There was, for me, no comparable for Joey Moss.

They broke the mould, either before or after they made Joey.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

NBA Free Agency Report: Raptors waive Dewan Hernandez – RaptorsHQ

Published

 on


In a surprising turn, the Raptors officially announced this afternoon that they are waiving centre Dewan Hernandez in advance of the 2020-21 season. The soon-to-be 24-year-old big man would have once again been the Raptors 14th or 15th man for the coming season, but it still comes as something of a shock given Toronto’s usual regard for their own draft picks as of late — and their ability to develop them into useful NBA players.

The thinking here from Toronto may have more to do with roster management and salary cap thinking than potential. Though, due to things he could and couldn’t control, Hernandez didn’t do much to prove he could stick in the NBA.

Hernandez joined the Raptors for the 2019-20 season as the 59th pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. There’s usually no reason to believe a player picked in that range will hang on in the league, but Hernandez is a lithe 6’10”, 235 pounds, and showed he had some of the mobility and shooting range needed to be a new-age frontcourt player in the NBA. He still had a ways to go, particularly on the defensive end and appeared in just six games during last season for the Raptors. Unfortunately a serious ankle injury kept him off the floor for the 905 in the G League as well, which surely hurt his development — and his chances of staying with the Raptors.

After adding two new rookies in the 2020 NBA Draft — Malachi Flynn and Jalen Harris — and then signing a pair of established centres in Aron Baynes and Alex Len, it was clear the Raptors were about to run into a bit of a roster crunch. As reviewed here: with Hernandez on the roster, the team was at 16 players — and that’s before adding Len as the team’s backup centre, and before addressing what to do with their other two-way contract slot, which may go to rookie Harris or a returning Oshae Brissett (who is still on the restricted free agent market). There’s also Terence Davis to consider, but we’ll leave that for now.

In truth, Toronto just did not have a lot to lose by letting Hernandez go. Some team could — and likely will — pick him up to become their 15th man or to solidify their G League roster at some point in the future. But with no timetable for a G League return and roster needs now shifting elsewhere for Toronto (e.g. it’s hard to teams to justify carrying three centres), releasing Hernandez saves the team a few bucks in the short term and presumably opens the way for the return of Brissett or some other forward option.

Here’s hoping Hernandez can regain his footing in the NBA soon because, I’ll be honest, he flashed some funky skills at times and I hope he gets a chance to ply his trade for real in the league. Best of luck, Dewan.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Report: Ravens close facility until next week; game vs. Steelers in jeopardy – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


The Baltimore Ravens are closing their training facility until Monday at the earliest due to the team’s COVID-19 outbreak, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Sunday’s game between the Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers — which was originally scheduled for the Thanksgiving primetime slot on Thursday — figures to be in jeopardy, though it has not yet been postponed.

Five additional Ravens tests came back positive on Thursday, with four players and one staff member contracting the coronavirus. Linebacker Pernell McPhee, running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins and defensive tackle Brandon Williams had previously been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

6 star players the Raptors could sign as free agents in 2021 | Offside – Daily Hive

Published

 on


After saying goodbye to Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol this offseason, one thing is clear: the Toronto Raptors will be going all-in on free agency next year.

The Raptors reportedly refused to offer either player more than one-year deals in the name of cap flexibility, with a historically-great crop of players potentially available in 2021.

Masai Ujiri will have plenty of options, beginning with his own team. Kyle Lowry is set to become a free agent, while Norman Powell could opt out of the final year of his contract.

With that said, let’s take a look at some of the top pending free agents in 2021, with an eye on who the Raptors might throw money at.

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)

Position: Power forward
Age: 25
2019-20 stats: 29.5 PTS, 13.6 REB, 5.6 AST

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the most sought after free agent in 2021, and there’s a very real possibility that the Raptors could be a top contender to sign him.

Ujiri helped Giannis’ family emigrate from Nigeria to Greece, and the Raptors president wanted to draft him in 2013.

Getting a player of Antetokounmpo’s ability at age 25, in a position the Raptors covet no less, would be a franchise-changer.

2. Kawhi Leonard (LA Clippers)

Position: Small forward
Age: 29
2019-20 stats: 27.1 PTS, 7.1 REB, 4.9 AST

He wouldn’t, would he? But what if he did?

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and perhaps after two years in Los Angeles, Kawhi Leonard would like to rekindle some magic back in Toronto.

It’s a long shot, but the Clippers did have a disappointing playoffs and reportedly have a fractured locker room. If the team falls apart again this season, maybe it’s enough for Kawhi to leave as a free agent, as he has a player option for 2021-22.

3. Paul George (LA Clippers)

Position: Shooting guard
Age: 30
2019-20 stats: 21.5 PTS, 5.7 REB, 3.9 AST

If Kawhi wants out of LA, maybe Paul George will too. And if Leonard doesn’t opt for a Toronto reunion, perhaps Ujiri can convince George to come north of the border.

Crazier things have happened.

4. DeMar DeRozan (San Antonio Spurs)

Position: Small forward
Age: 31
2019-20 stats: 22.1 PTS, 5.5 REB, 5.6 AST

Speaking of reunions, wouldn’t this be fun? DeMar DeRozan loved his time in Toronto and was heartbroken when the Raptors traded him to San Antonio in 2018. But perhaps that broken heart has been mended.

According to a recent story in GQ, DeRozan and Ujiri made up in the NBA bubble in Orlando. DeRozan gave the Raptors executive a “big hug,” according to Ujiri, who added that he felt they had “reached a new place.”

5. Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)

Position: Centre
Age: 28
2019-20 stats: 15.1 PTS, 13.5 REB, 1.5 AST

Seven-foot-one French centre Rudy Gobert is an intriguing piece. A two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gobert would fit in well to the Raptors’ commitment to defence.

6. Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers)

Position: Shooting guard
Age: 28
2019-20 stats: 14.5 PTS, 3.9 REB, 2.9 AST

Victor Oladipo wants out of Indiana, and openly campaigned for a trade to the Raptors during in front of his teammates last season, according to a report in the Indianapolis Star.

While that’s clearly outrageous, it is an indication that the two-time NBA All-Star wants out of Indiana. Named to the All-Defensive First Team in 2018, Oladipo would help at both ends of the court.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending