In a move that has been anticipated since he went MIA at the start of the Phoenix Coyotes’ training camp, Wayne Gretzky resigned from his position of head coach of the team.
Gretzky’s departure was a near certainty given the ongoing court case over the future ownership of the franchise. Neither Jim Balsillie nor the NHL has included Gretzky in their bids for the team. Gretzky’s current contract is rumoured to be worth up to $8.5 Million per season and neither party wanted to take on Gretzky’s contract going forward. In Balsillie’s case, Gretzky did not want to move from the Phoenix area to Hamilton under Balsillie’s proposed plan.
It’s interesting to note that only the proposed bid of Ice Edge Holdings included keeping Gretzky on board in any capacity. Jerry Reinsdorf didn’t get far enough in the process to indicate whether he would keep Gretzky on board or not.
There is a historical irony that will come out of this, though. The greatest player in hockey history has been forced out of the NHL by the worst franchise in hockey history. You think that a smart business man like Balsillie or someone in the NHL would try to keep Gretzky on as an ambassador. I guess the NHL isn’t that forward thinking.
Ulf Samuelsson was originally rumoured to be getting promoted from associate coach to head coach. However, recent rumours have former Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett stepping into the hot seat.