Dave Semenko, who long served as Wayne Gretzky's protector on the ice for the Edmonton Oilers, died Thursday morning from cancer. He was 59.
Semenko, who was diagnosed with liver and pancreatic cancer, passed away with friends and family present, Sportsnet reported.
"It is with great sadness we announce the passing of Oilers legend Dave Semenko after a short, but courageous battle with cancer," the Oilers said in a statement. "Dave will be remembered as a fierce competitor, loyal teammate, fan favorite and dear friend to so many. 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.
"Our hearts go out to Dave's family and many friends. Once an Oiler, Always an Oiler."
Semenko began his professional hockey career with Edmonton in the World Hockey Association in 1977. The club entered the NHL two years later.
The Oilers captured Stanley Cup titles in 1984 and 1985 with Semenko, who was traded to the Hartford Whalers in 1986. The 6-foot-3 forward played his final season with the Toronto Maple Leafs the following year.
One of the more-feared enforcers of his time, Semenko recorded 65 goals, 88 assists and 1,175 penalty minutes in 575 career games with the Oilers, Whalers and Maple Leafs.