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Gretzky amazes after all these years

by Phil Coffey

As the Phoenix Coyotes wound their way through the Atlantic states over the past week and a half, Wayne Gretzky still commanded the spotlight.
Wayne Gretzky wears a suit to work these days, but his playing exploits never are far behind.

As the Phoenix Coyotes wound their way through New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania over the past week and a half, Gretzky still commanded the spotlight.

Philadelphia Flyers center Danny Briere was especially awe-struck when talking about the 215 points Gretzky piled up in 1985-86.

“In a season? Geez,” Briere told reporters. “I have a hard time scoring 30 in a season. How was he able to get so much done? How did he get so many points in the time he played? It’s amazing. He could have a two-point game and it would have been a bad game for him.”


"It seems like it's fresh in my mind because I think about it a lot. I wish I could still play. Unfortunately, I can't because I'm not good enough anymore. I remember the last day here. It's like it happened yesterday."

-- Wayne Gretzky talking about his first trip back to Madison Square Garden since his retirement.


“If you’ve been around the guy, and watched the way he performs and acts on a day-to-day basis, you can’t help but absorb some of that. He has a calming effect. He has that personality that portrays; ‘Don’t worry guys. It’s OK. We’ll get it done, no matter what’s happening out there.’ We’re an emotional group, and at times, our emotions are maybe getting the better of us.”

-- Ducks coach Randy Carlyle discussing defenseman Scott Niedermayer.


“It means a lot of owners and a lot of managers had a lot of confidence in me, particularly this last hire with Darryl (Sutter) hiring me. That gives you longevity. Then you have to have good teams and good players to have that kind of run and that kind of success over time. It takes a lot of good fortune to be in this League for that long.”

-- Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan chatting about recording coaching win No. 600, putting him in a group with Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Dick Irvin, Pat Quinn and Bryan Murray.


“A lot of people out there can get as impatient as they want. We’re the ones responsible for their improvement. Let’s see what Erik Johnson is going to be at the end of three years. Let’s see what David Perron is going to be at the end of three years. Patience is what we have to subscribe to here.”

-- St. Louis Blues President John Davidson responding to criticism that the Blues aren’t playing young players like Johnson and Perron enough.


“We’re not out of anything here. We just have to find a way to grind through this and keep on working and have something good happen for us.”

-- Tampa Bay Lightning coach John Tortorella


“We’ve been playing pretty good hockey, we’ve been getting results and now we’re right back in a playoff position. From the start of the season, where things were looking pretty grim, until now, it’s been a nice change. There’s still over half a season to go and that’s a good sign to have battled back as early as we did to give ourselves a chance to get back in the race. And we know that if we go out and play the type of hockey we’re capable of, we’re going to get wins.”

-- Edmonton Oilers center Shawn Horcoff


“Cheli (Chris Chelios) is a freak of nature, fitness-wise. Zubie (Sergei Zubov) is a freak of nature smarts-wise.”

-- Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett compares Red Wings Chris Chelios and Stars defenseman Sergei Zubov.


“In spurts, we’ve been good, but for whatever reason we can’t seem to get 60 minutes together, and it’s costing us games and taking us further and further down the standings. I don’t know what it is. We need to figure something out.”


-- Los Angeles Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera


“This will be a great souvenir for me. A great souvenir.”

- Wild coach Jacques Lemaire after Minnesota earned a win against Nashville in his 1,000th game as a head coach.


“I’ve been surrounded by good people. I’ve used the knowledge of a great coaching staff and Mr. (Lou) Lamoriello has been great. But it wasn’t like I didn’t know the League. I watched five, six, seven NHL games a night after I quit playing and was coaching junior. And I paid a lot of attention to New Jersey the last couple of years.”

-- Devils coach Brent Sutter


“One thing about (Chris Simon) is he’s extremely competitive and extremely emotional, and he gets into every game. He’s a guy that wants to win. Everybody’s making it out to be just about Chris Simon. He’s had his incidents, but he’s not the only guy in the League to do something like this. This is an emotional game and some guys make bad decisions.”

-- Islanders captain Bill Guerin discusses Chris Simon’s suspension.


“We get in there for some reason and, myself included, we all make the first pass way too complicated. We have to go back to basics. Get guys in front of the net and put pucks on the net and good things happen. If you look for too major of a change it never really works. Just get the pucks on net and get the ugly goals.”

-- Blackhawks center Robert Lang noting the ugly approach is often the right approach.


“He’d play 30 minutes every night if you allowed him. We have to make sure we give him days off at times. You always worry about the mental part of it, but his makeup as a person is so good, I don’t see any reason to be worried.”

-- Atlanta Thrashers GM-coach Don Waddell discussing rookie defenseman Tobias Enstrom.


“I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, because I can see it in both cases. I guess it depends on your time frame. Your younger players probably don’t realize how good a player he was. He was the best two-way player I’ve ever seen play. Not of my time, but ever. He was the center who could pass, he had a great shot, he was smart. He played with two good players (Steve Shutt and Guy Lafleur) because he was so good defensively.”

-- Minnesota Wild GM Doug Risebrough recalling the playing career of Jacques Lemaire.


“I glance at them, but I don’t fret over them. If you lose a game all of sudden you can drop six spots in the standings and that can be a little disheartening. You have to keep it in perspective. If you win your games, it will take care of itself.”

-- Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz noting how the NHL standings seem to change on a daily basis.


”There’s a guy who’s earned his stripes. Maybe they don’t want to believe he’s a (star) -- after all he went through in the minors, he wasn’t supposed to make it. But he’s a guy who’s learned his craft. He’s the reason they’re where they are. He’s not only made it, he’s an impact player.”

-- San Jose Sharks scout Cap Raeder talking about Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.


“Things are different from last year. We can’t quite be the same. Every game isn’t going to be this wild run-and-gun, 7-2, 8-3 affair. It’s taken a while for our guys to get accustomed to it and a while for it to sink in that we have to be a more responsible team (defensively) in tight games.”

-- Buffalo Sabres coach Lindy Ruff


“Things change so quickly for good and for bad and it wasn’t long ago that I thought I had a good year in Edmonton and then I started the next year in Syracuse. Certainly, playing in this League teaches you to handle some adversity and handle some bumps.”

-- Penguins goalie Ty Conklin


“It got to the point where I felt I was becoming a liability on the ice, especially in our zone. I couldn’t push guys, I couldn’t lean on guys, I couldn’t engage in any type of battle with guys. I knew then it was time to get something done.”

-- Canucks center Brendan Morrison talking about having to undergo wrist surgery.


“The team was very gracious and (Craig Conroy) grabbed the puck. Very appropriate that I brought him here to St. Louis in a trade. It was nice for him to present it to me in front of the team.”

-- Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan after winning his 600th game.


“The actions of Chris Simon on Saturday do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for. They were reckless, potentially dangerous and against our team concept of grit, character and heart.

“We know Chris as a respected teammate and as a gracious man away from the playing surface and believe strongly that he has earned our continued support. The Islanders are going to provide some time for Chris away from the team and give him the counseling he needs and the compassion he deserves. When Chris is completely ready, he will be a member of our team again.”

-- New York Islanders owner Charles Wang discussing providing Simon with a leave of absence after last weekend’s incident with the Penguins’ Jarkko Ruutu.


“We know we have 50 games to go here. I don’t like to look too far ahead, but it will probably take 30 wins to get in the playoffs and that’s our goal and move from there. It’s very possible. We have the ingredients; we just have to bleed a little more.”

-- Blackhawks coach Denis Savard


“They got the puck going out of their zone in a hurry. I thought they played well; I was impressed. I really was. I thought it was a hard battle for us. There aren’t many teams that keep us off kilter all night long like they did tonight. I didn’t think we showed them enough respect at the start, but I thought we got better.”

-- Red Wings coach Mike Babcock discussing the Washington Capitals after a close Capitals-Red Wings game.


”It’s a shame his (Shawn Horcoff) name is not on the All-Star ballot. He’s playing with a ton of confidence and I don’t think people realized the potential that he has. He’s a first-line center and he’s showing it. He’s playing well, working hard and making plays.

-- Oilers forward Fernando Pisani


“The player who’s really impressed me in Florida is Stephen Weiss. He’s skating much better, his belief system is healthy, he’s been kind of a revelation on the power play, (which) he’s really helped. You always knew (Olli) Jokinen would get his points, but Stephen Weiss has really stepped up.”

-- Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray


“Adversity is a big enemy of ours right now. We look inexperienced at handling our adversity. You can’t start like that and get away with that in this League. It just didn’t look like we were comfortable or felt at ease when we had the puck. We are struggling right now. There’s no doubt about that.”

-- Los Angeles Kings coach Marc Crawford

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.



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