Gretzky not ready to return to NHL
Wayne Gretzky is not ready to return to hockey just yet.
In an interview with Hockey Night in Canada Radio hosts Gord Stellick and Kelly Hrudey on Wednesday, the Great One confirmed he’s comfortable watching from the sidelines for the time being.
"I’m not sure, I really don’t think a whole lot about it," Gretzky said. "Maybe my time has come and passed me by but right now I’m not actively looking to get back into the game, and by no means does that mean anything but my plate seems to be kind of full and I’m enjoying what I’m doing."
Citing various reasons including being a parent and business endeavours, Gretzky, 51, said he’s accomplished just about all he has wanted to in his career and enjoys watching the game as a fan now.
"I don’t often think about it because in my career I was lucky," he said, "I played with some great players and great teams and I got to know the people in the game and form some wonderful friendships over the years.
"I really enjoyed my time in hockey and being in the NHL and I loved being a part of [the 2002 Olympic gold medal-winning team in Salt Lake City [Utah] with Canada and working with Hockey Canada and Bob Nicholson. I’ve enjoyed every aspect of it."
The Brantford, Ont. native has assumed various hockey-related roles since his playing days (with the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers) ended with his retirement after the 1998-99 season.
He was named executive director of Canada’s hockey team at the 2002 Olympics as well as 2006 in Turin, Italy, and assumed an ownership role and then head coaching position with the Phoenix Coyotes (2005-09) among other things.
Gretzky was also named special adviser for Canada’s Olympic squad for the 2010 Games in Vancouver, B.C.
In 1,487 career NHL games, he amassed 894 goals and 2,857 points.
Great One talks concussions
Gretzky weighed in on the NHL’s current concussion plight, highlighted by Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby’s continuing and arduous recovery.
The NHL’s all-time leading scorer said during his playing days there wasn’t as much awareness about the injury as there is today, where medical advancements have shed a brighter light on the injury.
"When we played, we didn’t know what [concussions] were," Gretzky said. "They would tell you 'you know what, go home, get a good night’s sleep and tomorrow we’ll work hard and skate it out of you.' And I’m sure there were guys that had concussions that didn’t realize or know it.
"Today, we’re just more aware of it as we are in society," he said. "It’s not good when the best players in the game are going down injured, and it’s not good when anybody’s going down injured, so hopefully we’re on some sort of track here — not just in hockey but in every sport — to figure out what are ways we can prevent these issues and problems from happening going forward."