Gretzky Would Be Better Off In Montreal


I don’t know if it’s sad or even all that puzzling. But when a coach and icon is missing in action, it kinds of sums up the whole silly mess in Glendale/Phoenix and cements even further my (our) distain for Gary Bettman and his insistance that teams in the southern US are a valid and necessary part of the NHL.

Wayne Gretzky is staying home while his Phoenix Coyotes prepare for the upcoming season because his $8 million dollar salary won’t be assumed by the NHL if it wins the bidding war over Jim Balsillie, which it may do. I think you or I might very well do the same thing as The Great One. Who’s going to work for free?

What are we to think about this Gretzky problem? Is this any way to treat such a person? But what the heck. I don’t want him to coach anyway.

For some unexplainable reason, I’ve never liked seeing shots of him standing behind the bench, changing lines, yelling at referees, looking for all the world like a real coach. I’ve  never gotten used to it. It’s like seeing my old wild and crazy hippy buddy become a big shot in the government.

Gretzky was a player, which is an understatement.  And a guy who ran the Olympic team because everyone respects him and he knows more about hockey than most. That’s what we remember. He never coached before, anywhere, anytime. He was always just a teammate who partied with the guys and laughed a lot, who would drink beers and have big dinners for his buddies and all the things a guy would do because he wasn’t the coach. He was just one of the boys.

Then he became a coach and frowned a lot and looked like he was miserable most of the time and the fun of the game which he’d known since that backyard rink in Brantford had gone, only to be replaced by coaching players who couldn’t possibly play as well as their coach once did.

Now what’s going to happen? If the NHL has control of the Coyotes and Gretzky’s contract fizzles out, would he continue on for lesser money, or would he shop himself around to another team? And if he does that, would he be looking for a coaching role, which I hope he doesn’t want anymore, or a loftier title, like general manager?

But being general manager means working on salaries and salary caps and bonues and percentages, and somehow, for me anyway, it doesn’t seem like a good fit for Gretzky. It’s not the kind of job Bobby Orr would’ve been good at, or the Rocket, or Gordie Howe, and, I think, Gretzky. These guys are more grassroots. Hockey-minded lawyers and more business-minded guys are better suited for the numbers game.

Wayne Gretzky should get the heck out of Phoenix. He’s hockey, Phoenix isn’t. What a waste of a hockey legend, coaching in a place where he can actually walk down most streets and no one looks sideways at him. It’s just not right.

I think he should come to Montreal. Help Jacques Martin. Take the Kostityns under his wing and show them things. Get Plekanec going again. Work with the guys. He and Gainey are old friends. He could laugh again.

19 thoughts on “Gretzky Would Be Better Off In Montreal”

  1. Respect your opinion with here, but I have to disagree with almost everything you’ve written about Mr. G. Eight million dollars a year to coach????? Especially ridiculous given no previous coaching experience.

    About coming to Montreal???? If that should happen, not that it ever will of course, but I would have to resign as a fan of the Habs – a position I have held for fifty-six years and counting.

  2. Riley,

    I agree, that’s a ridiculous amount of money for coaching, no wonder that team is going down the toilet, lousy management for a start. I heard the other day the Gretzky doesn’t have a contract, which makes some sense, because if he did he would be behind the bench, no? He always looked so angry as a coachand he had his share of hissy fits.


    I agree with you, he’s probably the most comfortable on the ice. He doesn’t need the money, that’s for sure but if he wants to keep close to the rink, running a hockey school or specialized clinic would be a good fit.

  3. Riley, ah, somebody my age. I never said anything about whether he was paid too much or too little, I just said he was paid. And the story was about what an uncomfortable fit he seems to be as coach. Also, the Habs thing was just tongue-in-cheek, of course he’s not going to Montreal. But you can disagree. I’m just not sure about what exactly.

  4. Gretzky appointed himself head coach, so he is to blame for being in that horrible position.
    Accepting that ridiculously high amount of pay is also his doing.
    He is as much to blame for this clubs ultimate failure as the management, the fans and the community, so yes, this poor treatment of him is rightfully deserved.
    For what he has been paid, compared to his record, he owes them a few seasons of “coaching” free of charge.
    Remember, he has a small stake in this franchise also, so his standing by and letting the money fly out the window contributed to this saga as well.
    Sending him to Montreal would be a punishment to the Habs, not Gretzky.


  6. Despite being one of the greatest players of all time, please Gretzky stay far away from Montreal. Thankfully there’s a much better chance of Dennis becoming owner and me playing right wing than of Gretzky joining the Habs.

    I think Gretzky has spent too much time in the southern US and the sun has fried his hockey senses. Thinking that a team in Arizona is a good idea and becoming a part owner makes him delusional. The team’s results over the last 4 years show him to be an incompetent head of hockey operations.

    I wouldn’t begrudge any coach or player for accepting such a ridiculous salary. My issue is that he gave it to himself. Even worse he considers the stupid investment he made to the team was a loan and wants it back as part of the bankruptcy resolution.

    “The salary of the chief executive of a large corporation is not a market award for achievement. It is frequently in the nature of a warm personal gesture by the individual to himself.” — John Kenneth Galbraith

  7. Speaking of which, I’ve added another 75 bucks to sweeten the pot about ownership and I’m hoping the chubby, long-haired guy who won 84 million in the Maryland Powerball comes on board.

  8. I disagree with most of what you wrote SDK and its mainly because I really don’t like Gretzky. I find him arrogant beyond belief and he gets kid glove treatment from the media. He has partnered with some of the worst, some criminal, people during his NHL tenure. Of course his isn’t totally to blame but I think all he really cares about is money. A chimp could’ve done his job as part of Team Canada. He let Quinn play CuJo. He slagged Patrick Roy which lead the English media to call Casseau a traitor to Canada (funny that is is #33 that came back to Canada, bought a Jr. team, won a Memorial Cup, etc.) Its like when the NHL put out the mandate that no one could check Gretzky. He is still covered in teflon, his own shit doesn’t stick to him. I think he’s a whiner, always has been, always will. He has the most points in the NHL and that is about all he wrote.

  9. But it wasn’t like I was really taking sides or whatever. I was just saying he was never a good fit as a coach and the whole Phoenix thing is so stupid. Gretzky always made sense when he was talking hockey and I respect him for that. But I wasn’t saying he’s right about all this stuff now. I was just saying he should’ve stuck to something else besides coaching.

  10. moeman, I too never liked Gretzky much, but I am an even lesser fan of the Roy family.
    Give PR all of the kudos you like, but he did entertain the idea of joining the Avalanche this past off-season.
    And lets not forget about the crap that went on with his jr. team, especially the crime committed by his own son.
    PR sent that boy down the ice and that was anything but comendable.

    I guess the sad thing here is that the “fans” in Phoenix that welcomed Gretzky with open arms, and thought him to be the Messiah, have turned their backs on him, their team, and anyone who thinks that hockey will not work in the desert.

    Gretzky put himself in this position and then bailed on his team just as the fans have done.
    To lead by example is exactly what he is doing; when the going gets tough, leave.

    I said before that to send Gretzky to Montreal would be a punishment to the Habs, and they don’t deserve that.

    One more thing, Puck Daddy is a hack, and you should avoid that site at all costs!

  11. I surely opened a can of worms with this post and it’s almost a relief to see Goon Squad not hit me too hard here. I honestly believe I maybe didn’t get my points across properly. I wasn’t defending Gretzky for what he did in Phoenix, I was just trying to make the point that coaching or GM aren’t good fits for him and he should get back to being one of the boys. My biggest regret about this post is I didn’t slam him for a ridiculous 8 million dollar salary. And I’ve had a real distaste for the whole Partrick Roy saga for years.

  12. I wasn’t after you on this one Dennis.

    Gretzky has no defense here.
    He failed in every area but setting league records, and even those are questionable, being that players weren’t allowed to touch him back in the day.
    Now he gets to add a few failures to his resume’.
    When all is said and done in the desert, he might not be accepted as one of the boys anymore…

  13. SDK, I respect what you wrote and understand you aren’t defending Gretzky. The Habs (and others) have been paying that $8M salary for a few years via shared revenue. Not good.

    Goon, I was only comparing Roy’s Canadianess to Gretzky’s (he does nothing in/for Canada than cash-in at his restaurants and showing up to GM Team Canada and embarrass our country by whining (in 2002) ‘no one likes us’ blather.

    I agree that Roy has an F- on his report card for certain fuckups and has been part of some pathetic and repugnant events (on/off the ice). I simply brought him up to point to Gretzky’s arrogance.

    Bonus is #33 has more Conn Smythe’s than #99.

  14. This is an example of why some of the smartest hockey people out there comment on this site. Moeman and Goon Squad, you make great points, as have the other folks who took me to task here. I really, really appreciate the input. And the next time I write a piece like this, I’ll write it when I’m not working graveyard.

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