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.