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Wayne Gretzky Shares Thoughts On The Golden Knights

"The Great One" spoke about Vegas' arrival into the NHL at his Fantasy Camp this week

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

Wayne Gretzky knows a few things about hockey.

After all, throughout his 20-year NHL career, he scored a few goals. On some occasions, he even popped in a handful of assists. And in a couple instances, he even played a small part on some Stanley Cup squads.

In all seriousness, though, Gretzky's resume doesn't need much of an introduction.

With league records in goals (894), assists (1963) and points (2,857), Gretzky still owns more than 60 NHL records and is widely acknowledged as the greatest player in the history of the game.

With that greatness also comes wisdom about how the sport works.

Especially when you factor in that Gretzky's trade from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings in 1988 is generally acknowledged as the singular event that spurred the growth of hockey in warm weather cities - such as Las Vegas - across the United States.

In town this week to host his annual Fantasy Camp at Las Vegas Ice Center, Gretzky, 56, shared his thoughts on the Golden Knights' arrival in Southern Nevada.

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 Video: Wayne Gretzky discusses the Vegas Golden Knights

 

Gretzky was especially philosophical when reflecting on how Vegas stacks up as part of the league's expansion history. Which, mostly with drafting systems that have stacked the odds against new franchises in the past, has predominantly produced teams that have struggled winning games in their early seasons.

No. 99 doesn't believe this is a fate that awaits the Golden Knights.

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"First of all, we're so much smarter now, in all aspects in life," Gretzky told the NHL Network. "In 1967 (the league's first expansion), when we started with the six teams…you get the worst players you could possibly have. And they were bad for years and years, and people said 'well that's not a hockey city, and you can't survive there.'

"So the Commissioner (Gary Bettman), and their office and the (Players') Union are smart enough to get together now and say: 'listen, we've got to put a half decent product there.' So people say that: 'you know what, I love watching the team compete. They play hard, we know they're a young team, we know they're going to get better and we got a chance.' Instead of putting the worst team you can put together and then saying after two years, you know what, Las Vegas is not a hockey city. And that's not fair to the city, and that's not fair to the National Hockey League.

"So I think it's going to be very successful."

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Another element that Gretzky believes plays in the Golden Knights' favor is George McPhee's presence as the team's general manager.

"I think George McPhee is one of the hardest working people that we've ever had in the game," Gretzky said. "He's had the experiences of being in Vancouver, places like the New York Islanders and Washington.

"I think this franchise is going to be very strong, and it's going to do very well."

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There have been many voices who have thrown their support behind the NHL's expansion into Las Vegas, and many respected names who've said that they think the Golden Knights can quickly find on-ice success.

But when it comes to endorsements, Gretzky's blessing might just be...

What's the word for it?

Dare we say it, Gretzky's endorsement just might be the "greatest."

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