Gretzky steps down as head coach of Coyotes

Thu Sep 24, 2009 3:55pm EDT
 
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PHOENIX (Reuters) - Wayne Gretzky has stepped down as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, a victim of the muddled ownership picture surrounding the financially ailing franchise.

The NHL Hall of Famer said on his website (www.gretzky.com) that the team's cloudy future had left him out in the cold.

"This was a difficult decision that I've thought long and hard about," said Gretzky, widely considered the best player ever to suit up in the NHL and known as "The Great One."

"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 Don Maloney and suggested he begin looking for someone to replace me as coach," added the 48-year-old.

NO PLAYOFFS

Gretzky, who retired as a player in 1999 after 20 seasons that included four Stanley Cup wins with the Edmonton Oilers, was named Phoenix coach in 2005 but in four seasons the club went 143-161-24 and never made the playoffs.

"As always, Wayne placed the welfare of the team ahead of his own in making this extremely difficult decision," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"While the Coyotes have not had the degree of on-ice success that always has been Wayne's objective, there can be no question he has played a vital role in the youth movement that has positioned the Coyotes for success in the future."   Continued...

 
<p>Phoenix Coyote's head coach Wayne Gretzky answers a question during the launch of Samsung's 2010 Winter Olympic Games wireless hardware and programs in Vancouver, British Columbia, June 23, 2009. REUTERS/Lyle Stafford</p>