Wayne Gretzky is set to become a member of the Edmonton Oilers once again.
According to Sportsnet’s John Shannon, the Oilers are set to announce that ‘The Great One’ has joined Oilers Entertainment Group as vice-president and partner. The team confirmed Gretzky's return shortly thereafter.
Gretzky was on hand in Edmonton Wednesday for the unveiling the refurbished statue of himself as part of the team’s ceremony ahead of the Oilers’ regular season debut at Rogers Place, their brand new arena. The statue, which stands three metres, had stood outside the Oilers’ former home since 1989, the year after Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings.
“When we were kids playing here, I think that we didn’t think about the future other than we wanted to become the best team we could possibly become,” Gretzky said Wednesday. “And fortunately we had so many great players that we played with who were unselfish and had one goal, and that was to win the Stanley Cup.”
Gretzky has returned to the organization in the past, but coming on as partner and vice chairman would mark the first time since being traded by the Oilers in 1988 that he has been a part of the organization in such an official capacity. Previously, Gretzky had been part of Edmonton’s alumni team that suited up at the 2003 Heritage Classic and he again plans to suit up for the alumni squad at the 2016 Heritage Classic, which is set to take place in less than two weeks in Winnipeg against the Jets.
It’s not the only new duty for Gretzky this season, as he has also officially joined on with the NHL as the ambassador for the upcoming Centennial Season. The league’s celebration of the 100th anniversary officially kicks off in January — the Centennial Classic outdoor game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 1, 2017 will be the first major event — and Gretzky will be a part of several events throughout the year. There’s little doubt that when the league unveils its official ranking of the greatest players of all-time, Gretzky will be atop the list.
Gretzky is the Oilers’ all-time leader in goals (583), assists (1,086) and points (1,669), and he captained Edmonton for five seasons from 1983-84 until 1987-88. He led the Oilers to four Stanley Cups, winning two Conn Smythe Trophies along the way. Gretzky remains the league’s all-time leader in goals (894), assists (1,963) and points (2,857).
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