Wayne Gretzky was going to return to hockey in some capacity, and where else would make more sense than Edmonton?
"It was always a question on the League's mind and all of our minds where and what would Wayne do relative to getting back into the game," said Oilers Owner and Chairman Daryl Katz. "We always felt that the Edmonton Oilers were his home."
Katz announced Wednesday that The Great One would indeed return home to Edmonton to serve as Partner and Vice Chair of Oilers Entertainment Group.
"Wayne will work with (OEG CEO and Vice Chair) Bob Nicholson and I on all aspects of OEG business," said Katz.
But as for making hockey decisions, those responsibilities remain with President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli.
"Nothing about this changes the structure of the Edmonton Oilers Hockey Operations hierarchy," said Katz. "This is Peter Chiarelli's team and he calls the shots. He'll continue to report to Bob Nicholson and remains 100 percent accountable for the team on the ice."
"My investment is going to be time," said Gretzky, fittingly speaking in the newly unveiled Oilers Hall of Fame room at Rogers Place. "I'm really excited about being involved with the organization, not just for one year but for years to come."
Video: Gretzky, Katz, Nicholson Q and A
Gretzky says opportunities to jump back into hockey have come and gone the last few years. The Oilers were the perfect fit.
"Timing has a lot to do with things and organizations has a lot to do with it," said Gretzky. "I just felt very comfortable with this organization and with Bob and I working together at the Olympics and Peter Chiarelli is a wonderful man and is doing a tremendous job. There's a good coaching staff. I'm just going to be a small part of it and I'm really excited to represent the Oilers and the City.
"My wife was really strongly encouraging that this was the right place for me to get back into hockey."
Gretzky, winner of four Stanley Cups with the Oilers and one of the most iconic sports figures of all time, will work closely with Katz and Nicholson on all aspects of OEG, including business and hockey operations. He's an ambassador for the company, as well as a sounding board to upper management.
Gretzky will work on the commercial side of business operations to "attract world-class sports and entertainment partnerships and events to Rogers Place." Gretzky will also help support development initiatives in ICE District.
This also means the all-time great and Hall of Famer will be in Edmonton more than before.
"I'll be around here a lot and as time goes on here and I spend more and more time in Edmonton, we'll get a place here and spend more time here in the City," Gretzky said. "I'm not running the team day to day. That's up to the staff that's in place, and I'm excited just to be around it and be able to say I'm part of the Oilers."
"This is a day that has been a long time coming," said Katz. "The Oilers family is honoured to welcome Wayne back into an official role within the organization where his legendary career began and where he will have a hand in helping both the Oilers and City of Edmonton return to a place of prominence."