Gretzky got a raw deal
Not to go all Godfather and
Posting an epistle on his website,
"We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected.
"Since both remaining bidders have made it clear that I don't fit into their future plans, I approached general manager
Gretzky did not elaborate on Maloney's "choice" and but sources confirmed to SI.com ahead of the team's Thursday evening press conference that former Dallas Stars coach
These moves did not come as a shock, but sources close to Gretzky have told SI.com that he's been stung by criticism of his decision to not be on the ice as coach when training camp opened even though he'd made that decision with the best interests of the Coyotes in mind. One source told SI.com that an even bigger disappointment for Gretzky was that the NHL had stated in open court that it would not honor his contract with the franchise should it be the successful bidder for the bankrupt franchise.
"That," the source said, "was like a kick in the gut to Wayne. He's done everything ever asked of him by the league and then some, and then when this came along they didn't even talk to him. They are willing to honor a whole list of existing contracts, but not his. That's unbelievable. He knew this day was coming."
Don't for a moment think there will not be long-term fallout from that decision. Gretzky is almost a decade removed from his playing days, but he is still the most recognizable face in hockey in the United States and he'll likely take the rebuff from Commissioner
One might argue that the NHL took a calculated risk with Gretzky by thinking that his time as a major off-ice player was over and he wouldn't jeopardize his reputation and many advertising relationships in the U.S. and Canada by getting involved in a public spat with the league. He has made a fortune off his relationship with the game, and a protracted fight could well cause problems for all concerned, but Gretzky is also a proud man who sources say feels that he's been seriously wronged.
"He's really upset by the fact that they never even talked to him," the source said. "Had they just come to him and said this is what we need to do, he would have done it, but they never did that.
"This guy is the best thing that ever happened to the league and he's being treated like he doesn't even exist. He cares about the Coyotes. He wants them to succeed in Glendale. Heck, he moved his whole family here and has been trying to make this work. Is he upset? You're damn right he is."
These things have a way of working out over time and there may be a scenario, after the bankruptcy case is settled, where Gretzky is mollified. It's reasonable to suggest that the NHL move quickly to make that happen. Gretzky has been the league's greatest player and ambassador for decades. He could also be its worst enemy should he choose to speak out on the many problems the league has today.
A word from Wayne about how the "quality of the game" is slipping or that the NHL's "leadership" appears to be going in the wrong direction regarding making the game more appealing in the U.S. could have a devastating impact on business. Gretzky has always known that, and so has the NHL. He's simply someone you don't want speaking out against you.
There are still cards to play here. Gretzky has resigned, but he made no mention of shedding his duties or responsibilities as a part-owner, managing partner and alternate governor of the Coyotes. There will likely be a window of opportunity, at least for a short period of time, where the league and The Great One might come to an understanding. But if the bankruptcy judge makes a decision (and it's likely to be in the next day or two) and all of Gretzky's obligations to the Coyotes are completely severed, that window will close.
Gretzky would then be free to speak his mind as Citizen Wayne and it's reasonable to think that the NHL won't like what he has to say.
On the surface this is both interesting and clever, but it may also be a case of too little too late.
In amending his bid to essentially match that of the NHL's regarding keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix for at least the upcoming season, billionaire
Here's the catch: If Judge
While there is much talk that if the NHL gets control of the Coyotes they will sell the franchise to a group that will keep it in Glendale, there are no guarantees. The NHL has told the court it would reserve the right to sell to an owner who might someday move the franchise, or the league might be forced to move it itself. But in the interim, there are persistent reports that, should the NHL get control, it will once again cut a deal with Chicago sports magnate
Discontent in the ranks of the NHL Players Association continues to grow some three weeks after the coup that ousted Executive Director
"Let me tell Andrew Ference, one defenseman to another, he should spend more time worrying about going back to get the puck than to worry about Paul Kelly's ability to do the job as head of the PA,'' Park told the
"They had a guy like
The Globe also quoted
"Look, I'm not the smartest guy in the world,'' Recchi said, "but the second I learned what happened in Chicago, I knew the process was wrong. It stunk. This should not have happened and we have to fix it. We can't let this happen again.''
While there is a definite effort from those in control to silence the controversy or at least move on, there are consistent reports that the rank and file wants an explanation from those who participated in the overthrow as to exactly why Kelly was ousted. There's another albeit smaller group who would like to see Kelly reinstated or at least have a vote by the entire membership regarding whether he should be the executive director.
Recchi stopped short of calling for reinstatement, but he did call for an internal investigation as to how Kelly's dismissal came about, something that is sure to strike fear in the hearts of those who were at the forefront of the coup. Calls for an investigation are being welcomed by Kelly's lawyer,
Sources have told SI.com that prominent current and former players are contacting each other and intend to push for exactly that. There are few who believe that rehiring Kelly would be good for the PA in that it would likely lead to some bitter infighting at a time when the union needs to be united, but in calling for an investigation, they feel they can prove there was an agenda among a small group and that ousting Kelly was in the best interests of that group and not the general membership.
Park, a former executive vice president of the union, joins a growing list of ex-NHLers who are upset.
Many players are known to be upset that
This fight is not over, not even close.