July 12, 1957 |
Winnipeg, MB, CAN
|Height||6 ft 3 in (191 cm)|
|Weight||215 lb (98 kg; 15 st 5 lb)|
|Played for||Edmonton Oilers
Toronto Maple Leafs
|NHL Draft||25th overall, 1977
Minnesota North Stars
David John Semenko (born July 12, 1957 in Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a retired Canadian hockey player who played for the Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, and Toronto Maple Leafs of the NHL. He was originally selected in 1977 by the Minnesota North Stars of the National Hockey League and the Houston Aeros of the World Hockey Association.
A frequent fighter, he was known as Wayne Gretzky's bodyguard early in Gretzky's career in Edmonton, beginning in the WHA in 1978, until Semenko was traded to Hartford in January 1987. Semenko is considered by many to be one of the toughest players ever in the NHL. The protection offered by Semenko allowed Edmonton's stars, such as Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, and Paul Coffey more freedom on the ice, greatly helping the Oilers win Stanley Cups in 1984 and 1985. He fought boxing legend Muhammad Ali in an exhibition on June 12, 1983.
Semenko played his junior hockey for the Brandon Wheat Kings, then played two years for the Oilers in the WHA before it merged with the NHL. 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. 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, 88 assists and 1175 penalty minutes.
After retiring, he became a colour commentator on Oilers radio broadcasts and then became an assistant coach with the Oilers in 1996 before joining the scouting staff.
Awards and achievements
- Stanley Cup Championships (1984 & 1985)
- “Honoured Member” of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame
- Earned the nickname "cement-head" by his fans
- 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