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Gretzky not ready to return to hockey

Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 10:37 PM / NHL Insider

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Gretzky not ready to return to hockey
Wayne Gretzky hasn't been actively involved in hockey since 2009, and he told TSN's Darren Dreger in an interview that he's not prepared to return to the game right now.
Wayne Gretzky may be hockey's most famous free agent -- and he plans to stay that way.

Gretzky, now 50, hasn't been connected with the NHL or any of its teams since he severed ties with the Phoenix Coyotes prior to the 2009-10 season. He told TSN's Darren Dreger that while some teams have approached him about an executive role, he's not ready right now.

"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," explained Gretzky.

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"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."

While stars of Gretzky's generation such as Steve Yzerman, Brendan Shanahan and Mark Messier have stepped into executive positions with NHL teams or the League itself, Gretzky told Dreger he's not ready for that kind of commitment.

"Never is a long time, but right now I don't see it on the horizon," Gretzky said. "I have good friends in the game from some teams and the league is always good to me and of course with my relationship with Team Canada and Bob Nicholson, we're always talking hockey. But I don't really have a passion right now to make a full-time commitment to get back in the trenches."

One job he really wouldn't want is Shanahan's role as the NHL's Senior Vice-President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations.

"First of all, I wouldn't want his job or responsibility for anything," Gretzky jokes. "It's like running for politics; when you're the President or Prime Minister no matter what you do you're going to upset half the people. You're in a never-win situation."

Gretzky also admitted that in a League with players who are bigger, stronger and faster than they were in his day, some of the milestones he reached in his career would be much more difficult to attain.

"The defense and the goaltending of the players today is so much more advanced than it was in the 1980s," he said. "That's not a knock against anybody in the 1980s, it's just a fact of life, the players are better today. They're better athletically.

"Would I be able to ratchet 200 points? Probably not. Because it's a different game," said Gretzky, who hit the 200-point mark four times. "Partly because the scenario. I was with the right team, the right players, the right coach, and at the time, the right era."

For now, the Great One says, he's glad to be able to watch hockey rather than be involved in it.

"I'm what you call a real fan," he said. "I really enjoy watching the games. I don't have to stress over winning and losing."

Quote of the Day

I feel that responsibility, I've felt it for the last two years. We core guys get a lot of minutes, we get a lot of opportunity out there. Our teammates, the organization and fans look to us to be the guys to put the puck in the net and to create momentum out there.

— Jordan Eberle on taking his game and the Edmonton Oilers to the next level