Ryan Roznowsky is the game day assistant for the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“I give them speeches before the game, I do the water bottles for practices and game day, I help the trainers out and sometimes the coaching staff if they need it,” Roznowsky explained.
He has Down syndrome, and just like Edmonton Oilers legend Joey Moss, his work ethic and enthusiasm have made him a mainstay of the team.
“Ryan takes those jobs and he takes ownership of them,” Lethbridge Hurricanes general manager Peter Anholt said. “And that’s what we need as a team. We want that for each and every one of us as Hurricane members. And he’s so good in the dressing room with the guys.”
The 41-year-old says his nerves on his first day with the team four years ago were calmed when thinking of Moss.
“He inspired me by doing the things that he did…What I’m doing now,” Roznowsky said.
“Joey is the ambassador of the Edmonton Oilers and the whole community there. (He was) the best they had with that team… and the (football team) as well.”
His Hurricanes coworker Rhett (Whitey) White says the news of Moss’ passing on Monday evening hit Ryan especially hard.
“It’s one of those things you can hear it in his voice and you know that it’s somebody who he’s looked up to for years and years,” White said. “With Ryan being the biggest Oilers fan possible in the world, you know, Joey was a hero to him.”
Ryan’s father Wayne Roznowsky says the legacy Moss leaves behind is more significant than some might realize.
“[He paved] the way for people like our son, people like Mikel McIver in Red Deer, Jason Norminton in Brandon, Jonathan Henry with the Moncton Wildcats,” Roznowsky said. “And those are just the people we know.”
He says Ryan’s role on the team isn’t one of tokenism, but rather one of true inclusion, and it’s thanks to Joey Moss.
“It opened the door. It just made it that much easier for people like Ryan to become part of a team,” he said. “It takes somebody to be first. And Joey Moss was first.”
Moss died peacefully Monday night at the age of 57 with his family around him.