Gretzky steps down as head coach of Coyotes

Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:29am EDT
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By Tim Gaynor

GLENDALE, Arizona (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 ( 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 play 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.

"I've loved the four years I spent coaching the Coyotes. Not a day went by when I took it for granted, and I will miss the competition of the NHL dearly," said Gretzky, a part-owner of the club who also stepped down as the team's director of hockey operations.

"It was an honor to hold the position, and I will always consider myself especially fortunate to have had this opportunity."

The team, who announced Dave Tippett as head coach, reacted with sadness at Gretzky's departure.   Continued...

<p>Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky gestures during their NHL pre-season game against the Edmonton Oilers in Glendale, Arizona, September 25, 2007. REUTERS/Rick Scuteri</p>