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A Great Addition

Cam Tait reflects on the exciting announcement made by the Oilers Entertainment Group on Wednesday

by Cam Tait @camtait / EdmontonOilers.com

It's not very often Wayne Gretzky can stand by himself at any public facility, never mind a hockey rink. 

But just before noon Wednesday was such a case - proving one thing: he didn't want to be late for his first day on the job.

Wayne stood by himself, hands in his pockets, just inside the main door of Rogers Place.

Two hours later, Oilers Owner and Chair Daryl Katz announced Wayne was re-joining the Oilers, a position he hasn't had since August of 1988 when he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

Wayne will serve as Partner and Vice-Chair of the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG).

For OEG CEO and Vice-Chair Bob Nicholson, having Wayne re-join the organization was something he had in mind for a while.

"When I joined OEG one of my main priorities was to bring Wayne back to the Oilers," Bob said. "I worked with him for many years at Hockey Canada and we've won an Olympic gold medal together. Now, we want to win Stanley Cups together."

"Wayne will help out with every part of the organization," Bob continued, saying Wayne's role won't be just hockey related. 

The announcement came on a rather eventful day for the Oilers: the team opened the National Hockey League (NHL) regular season against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place; the Wayne Gretzky Statue was unveiled at its new location on 104 Avenue, fully accessible to Oilers fans and the new Oilers Hall of Fame was opened. 

Wayne was one of the first people to see the Hall of Fame early Wednesday afternoon. He barely got in the front door when he stopped to look at an exhibit of one of his first Oilers jerseys, pair of skates and sticks.

"My kids look at the sticks I used to play with now and ask me how I could ever shoot with one," Wayne laughed.

The Hall of Fame is full of wonderful Oilers equipment, pictures and trophies. Details of public tours will be announced shortly.

Wayne's stall, complete with an orange bench from Northlands Coliseum, is another main attraction.

Wayne had his picture taken with sons Ty and Tristan in front of his stall. Wife Janet, daughter Emma and son Trevor were also in attendance at the event.

The Oilers have established a tradition of alumni players returning to Edmonton for special events.

Retired Oilers and NHL Hall of Famers Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri and Glenn Anderson were also in Edmonton for Wednesday's announcement and Opening Night.

"It's always great to come back to Edmonton with the guys I played with. We're all great friends," said Wayne. "When we were playing together, we were with each other every day. So when we get together now it's always good to see guys you haven't seen in a while."

Wayne smiled.

"But when we do get together, the stories of our younger years just seem to keep on getting longer - and better."

And, based on Wednesday's announcement, Wayne Gretzky's story with the Oilers is far from over.

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