Wayne Gretzky: We Hope To Emulate The Penguins

July 20, 2009 – 9:45 am by Tas Melas

Wayne Gretzky is in a tough spot with the Phoenix Coyotes.  A man who is so used to winning is fighting a battle which can seem hopeless at times, but Wayne is also a man who is used to working hard.  I’m not sure life would be that exciting for ‘The Great One’ if he didn’t have a challenge on his hands, and he obviously has one in trying to stabilize the Coyotes franchise.  As this legal battle involving possible relocation of the team enters critical stages the next couple weeks, Gretzky remains his calm, classy self in this interview.  As a Canadian, it’s hard not to smile and feel proud when hearing his name, while at the same time, outwardly cheering in hopes that everything goes his way.  Gretzky joined Fox Sports Radio with JT The Brick to discuss the monetary situation of the NHL, what the Pens’ successes mean to the Coyotes, and his desire for an outdoor game in California.

On the financial situation in hockey and all of professional sports:

“Some sports have probably been affected a little more than others.  Obviously, the game of basketball and football is so popular and so big that there’s situations and areas which are probably having a little tougher times than others.  But, all in all, I think the commissioner and player’s association putting together a salary cap have done a nice job in trying to make sure that each and every franchise stays secure.  It’s always his belief and the league’s belief to stabilize each and every team, unfortunately we don’t have the same TV revenue than that of baseball, football, basketball have, but I think overall it’s a tough thing to gauge right now because part of it is where some cities are in tough, and part of that has to do with the economic times that we’re in right now.  I think all in all the game is better than it’s ever been…”

What’s your take on the Penguins’ situation after winning the cup this season?

“It’s a nice thing for all of us because obviously you look at the Phoenix situation, you hope it all gets worked out and we’ve gone through a tough couple months.  And, people forget that a few short years ago, Pittsburgh was in the same situation; there was this talk about them maybe leaving Pittsburgh.  Mario, not only as management, but as a player has built up hockey so strongly in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.  It’s a nice, positive reaction that we can see that if you do things properly, and business is run properly, and you draft well, and you do the right things, you can stabilize a franchise.  So, we’re hoping to follow in those footsteps.”

What’s your take on the annual outdoor game?

“I’m a little bit biased ’cause I love the southwest – I’d love to see us do an outdoor game maybe in Anaheim or LA in January where it’s 60 degrees, but we can still sell 60,000 tickets to a hockey game to show how big the sport is growing in southern California and in the southwest.  I think it would be great for a game.”

Listen to Wayne Gretzky on Fox Sports Radio with JT The Brick

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