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Wayne Gretzky turned down job offers from the Oilers and Kings

Oct 21, 2011, 4:04 PM EST

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Recently, NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky sat down with TSN’s Darren Dreger for a candid one-on-one interview covering a myriad of topics: player safety, the state of the game and the current method of league discipline.

Which is all well and good, but the real interesting stuff was about Gretzky himself.

According to No. 99, he’s received several offers to return to the NHL, including two from the organizations he left indelible marks on — Edmonton and Los Angeles.

“Edmonton and Los Angeles have been really great to me and I have a nice relationship with both Kevin [Lowe] and the Oilers and obviously Dean Lombardi and the Kings, and I’m really honest with them. Right now, it’s not the time for me to jump back into the game.”

This news comes at a time when many of Gretzky’s contemporaries are working throughout the NHL. Since Gretzky left the coaching ranks in 2009, several players that once competed against him have become bench bosses — Kevin Dineen, Scott Arniel, Joe Sacco, Dave Tippett (Gretzky’s replacement in Phoenix) and Dan Bylsma (Gretzky’s one-time teammate in L.A.)

Several others (read: the higher-profile guys) have front-office positions:

– Mark Messier is the assistant to GM Glen Sather in New York.

– Steve Yzerman is the GM in Tampa Bay.

– Brendan Shanahan is the NHL’s discipline guru.

– Luc Robatille is the president of business operations in L.A.

–Joe Nieuwendyk is the GM in Dallas. Brett Hull is the executive VP.

Yet despite this, Gretzky says he has no interest in taking on new a job.

“I’ve always kind of been the same way when I was a player, when I was a coach, when I was in management. You have to give it your full effort. It’s a 24-hour a day job, 12 months a year. Right now I don’t have that sort of energy or passion to do that. I’m really just enjoying when they periodically call me or I’ll call them and we’ll just talk hockey.”

All that said, couldn’t you see Gretzky ending up back in the Edmonton organization in some capacity? He’s extremely high on the talented young roster (he called Ryan Nugent-Hopkins “one of the best young players we’ve seen come into the game in a long time”) and still harbors some regret for how the infamous “Kings Ransom” trade went down. Giving back to the organization could be his way of making amends.

Although moving to Edmonton could be a deal-breaker.

  1. ajinnashville - Oct 21, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    I know this is sacrilege to hockey fans, but hello? Have you looked at Gretzky’s track record as a coach and exec in the NHL? He’s doing those two franchises a favor by staying away. Gretz was a phenomenal player, but phenomenal players don’t always make phenomenal coaches or GMs; I think Wayne has come far enough to realize that about himself, and for that he should be applauded.

  2. davebabychreturns - Oct 21, 2011 at 5:30 PM

    His work as a GM for the 2002 Canadian men’s olympic team will always be appreciated (in this country, at least). Not the most challenging job but still.

    As a coach I would tend to agree. It’s probably tough for the smartest player ever to try getting teams like the ones he had in Phoenix buy into a system that will get them into the players.

    • ajinnashville - Oct 21, 2011 at 5:51 PM

      And that’s really my point. I think of Larry Bird, although he was successful for a time, Bart Starr, Magic Johnson; lots of other examples of superior athletes who just couldn’t translate their greatness into coaching acumen.

      And while Gretzky did do a great job in ’02 for Team Canada, that was a much more limited position from the standpoint of commitment than that of a similar post with an NHL team. And beyond his record as a coach and GM, the gambling scandal that happened on his watch, involving Rick Tocchet and his wife, Janet really can’t be minimized.

      I hope he’s able to offer his services somewhere at some point, but I really think he’s still smarting personally from the debacle in Phoenix.

      But then, what do I know, right? ;)

  3. namriverrat69 - Oct 21, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    AJ

    I agree with you. I had the great fun watching the Great Gretzky play here in LA for 8 years. Quite often coaches come from the ranks of student athlete/pro bench warmer.6th man, etc. who is not a starter but sits on the bench, listens and learns the coaching aspect of the game. Pat Riley, Tommy Lasorda come to mind, also Rudy T who spent some time there in his latter years after he had his face rearranged by the cheap shot by Kermit Washington. Like Tommy or not, he got results except in 77 & 78. Those Yankee teams still give me indigestion. Sleep well Yankee fans. This is the year of the King.

  4. garys79 - Oct 21, 2011 at 10:41 PM

    Who really believes this? Gretzky says in an interview that teams want him and he turned them down? Really? get serious.
    Gretzky loves the spotlight. He likes nothing better then to be the center of attention.
    Now all the Canadian networks are running this like it is a “story”.
    Nothing but one man’s self serving nonsense.

    • mianfr - Oct 22, 2011 at 3:05 PM

      You really think it’s unreasonable to believe the Kings and Oilers offered him any job in some capacity?

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