Though some may argue, Wayne Gretzky is an almost unanimous choice for the best hockey player ever. "The Great One"
had an amazing career as an NHL player and has now jumped back into the game as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. Gretzky who owns about 18% of the team will take over as coach from Rick Bowness who will stay on as an assitant along with Barry Smith and Rick Tocchet. Gretzky announced his move in a press conference this afternoon. "It's what I do best, to be involved in hockey," he said at a press conference in Glendale, Arizona. "I'm tremendously excited to be behind the bench. I'm really looking forward to the upcoming season." Gretzky will also serve as the club's managing partner and alternate governor, a role that he has performed for the past four years.
He is stepping into a situation that he has never really experienced. Wayne has never coached hockey (or any sport) at any level and will have to learn on his feet as he manages today's pro-athlete and strives to meet the high expectations set for him. There are some who fear that he may fail at this venture and tarnish his great career. A look at the history of pro-sports does not yield many examples of superstar players successfully transitioning to coaching duties. But then, there is always the goal of setting new ground, and Gretzky is as good as anyone to give it a shot.
“With all due respect to the head coaches in the NHL, they tend to need prior experience to work their way up from the minors to being an NHL assistant,” said Hockey Night in Canada commentator Kelly Hrudey, a teammate of Gretzky's with the Los Angeles Kings. “But for some people, not all people, that process is over-rated. Nobody has the insight Wayne has". A nine-time Most Valuable Player award winner, Gretzky
is the National Hockey League's all-time leader with 894 goals, 1,963 assists and 2,857 points spanning a superb 21-year career.