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Gretzky remains a huge fan of the NHL

Thursday, 02.10.2011 / 5:12 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Gretzky remains a huge fan of the NHL
Wayne Gretzky loved his days in the NHL, as a player and as a coach. Now, however, he just enjoys watching the games as a fan.
LAS VEGAS -- All you need to do is look at Wayne Gretzky to see how relaxed he is at 50 years old.

The Great One is sporting a long, SoCal-special hair-do. He takes slow, easy steps and walks with a care-free demeanor. He laughs, smiles and jokes with the people around him. He's not afraid to offer his opinions on everything, be it head hits in the NHL or his 10-year-old son thinking he's a switch hitter in baseball.

With the stress of coaching no longer consuming his days, Gretzky, still very much an avid fan of the National Hockey League, is in essence living the dream all over again.

"Today, if I got up (at home), I would drop my two little ones off at school, go work out for a little while and maybe play a little golf," Gretzky told NHL.com Thursday. "On Wednesdays my 10-year-old has baseball practice and my son has baseball in high school, and that's the day. Unless I have to do some corporate work, a charity outing, it's pretty laid back.

"I always tell my kids that the harder you work as a child the more fun you have as an adult, and the more fun you have as a kid the harder you're going to work as an adult. My dad taught me that when I was 10 years old. I'm very lucky. I have a great life now and I am enjoying myself immensely."

But it does seem like it's only a matter of time before Gretzky skates right back into the game and League he loves most. He said he hasn't given a thought as to what he would want to do if and when he does get back into the NHL, but it's pretty clear he does have the desire to one day get back into the game.

"Quite honestly I've talked with different people about being back involved at some sort of level, but the timing isn't right now," said Gretzky, who has five children, including 18-year-old Trevor, 10-year-old Tristan and 7-year-old Emma still at home. "To me the greatest thing about our game is being part of the National Hockey League. I enjoyed coaching, but we'll see what happens down the road here, what the future brings. Right now I just truly am enjoying being a fan and watching the games."

He admits to missing being a part of the action in the NHL, but he doesn't miss the stress of coaching.

"When I played I knew everybody's stats, all the guys, what they did. When I coached I knew player tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. But now I just sort of watch the games. I don't analyze, pick up great things or flaws -- I just kind of watch. I'm a fan."
-- Wayne Gretzky

"You learn as a player that you go to the rink, play and get up the next day and say, 'OK, we can win today,'" Gretzky said. "As a coach it never goes away. You prepare for practice and then you're preparing for the next game. You get ready for the game, you play the game and if you don't win, it's stressful. So the stress level is the part that I don't miss."

Gretzky still watches a lot of hockey, but he said he watches it in a different way -- a more relaxed way.

"When I played I knew everybody's stats, all the guys, what they did," he said. "When I coached I knew player tendencies, strengths and weaknesses. But now I just sort of watch the games. I don't analyze, pick up great things or flaws -- I just kind of watch. I'm a fan.

"I loved being in the game, loved being part of it, but I'm not mad about it and I don't fret about (not being in it now). I enjoy being a fan and watching the games. I think the hockey has been good."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres