Wayne Gretzky is nearly a year removed as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, and seems to be enjoying the experience away from hockey to the fullest.
Talking at his PGA-Nationwide Celebrity Pro-Am in Thornbury ON, a trim and relaxed Gretzky spoke on his former team, the free agent market and his tournament.
The full audio of the media scrum can be found on this podcast link.
“I’m happy doing what I’m doing and getting opportunities to do things I never got to do,” he said when asked how things have been since he left as Coyotes coach, amidst the ownership issues. “I’ve had a really great year.”
Gretzky was also happy to see the Coyotes on-ice performance last season, and commended his successor Dave Tippett on doing a wonderful job with the young group of players,
The 49-year-old NHL legend also discussed the new NHL and how the “dynasty days” appear to be long gone.
“You might not be able to build a dynasty,” he said. “You can’t afford to keep those players over a long period of time.
“You gotta pick your six or seven guys. Detroit sent the benchmark for that and I think Chicago is following that in some sort of fashion.”
Gretzky also spoke on the future of his tournament, now in it’s third year, which gives several upstart Canadians a chance to play at the PGA level. “We’ll sit down next week, after it’s over, and look to restructure it going forward.”
The tournament features several sports and entertainment personalities. One of the most fun to watch is former NBA star Charles Barkley, noted for his hesitant tee shot.
“Why don’t you try and do it,” when I asked him to describe Barkley’s swing in three words or less. “It’s just nerves, but he loves coming back.”
On the topic of free agency, Gretzky said sometimes it comes down to just wanting to win over money.
“With Kovalchuk, he’s coming from a young team in Atlanta, and he wants to win a championship. He’s probably holding out for a chance to win the Stanley Cup.”
Asked if there would ever be a LeBron James type scenario in the NHL, Gretzky jokingly speculated that if it did, it would probably happen in Toronto.