My views regarding the Olympics are known to regular readers, I am against the inclusion of professional athletes, among other things, but I would certainly lose my press membership if I did not discuss the news of the day coming from Toronto's Fan 590.
On Hockey Central at Noon, simulcast on Sportsnet, hosts Daren Millard and Nick Kypreos, along with Mike Brophy, were able to confirm with Wayne Gretzky during an interview, that he will not be returning as Executive Director of Team Canada for the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. The Great One has spoken with Hockey Canada CEO Bob Nicholson to discuss his role, but he will not be back as the boss. Gretzky told the Hockey Central hosts, "to be involved and just lend a hand is something I'd be happy to be part of."
When asked about coaching Team Canada, Gretzky stated, "Where I'll fit in, is still to be determined." He expects a management team to be in place within a few weeks, and then a coaching decision will be made. "There are a lot of great coaches, well deserving of being considered, and I've always looked at the guys(coaches) that have won." He went on to specifically mention Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle and Detroit's Mike Babcock.
Gretzky, the Phoenix Coyotes coach since 2005-2006, is 107-122-17 on a team that has not made the playoffs since their days as the Winnipeg Jets. He would be an asset to Team Canada, but he may need to guide his young Coyotes team into the Western Conference playoff picture this year to be considered on his coaching skills alone; if not he may face questions of whether his reputation won him the job. As Gretzky himself said, look towards the coaches that have won, but in Gretzky's case though, a trip to the post season would be enough.
Imagine a staff headed by Gretzky, along with Mike Babcock and Ken Hitchcock of Columbus, or Pat Burns, Randy Carlyle, Pat Quinn, Brent Sutter or Guy Carbonneau... The list of qualified Canadian coaches is almost as long as the list of great Canadian players. Have a great sports day everyone.