NHL

Wayne Gretzky to play role in NHL's centennial celebration

Wayne Gretzky is returning to the NHL as official ambassador of the league's centennial celebration.

Great One will make appearances beginning on New Year's Day

Wayne Gretzky said he owes "just about everything I now have in my life to the game of hockey and the National Hockey League," which will mark its centennial year beginning in January. (Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)

Wayne Gretzky is returning to the NHL as official ambassador of the league's centennial celebration.

The NHL announced that Gretzky, the league's all-time leading scorer, would make appearances at various events beginning on Jan. 1, 2017.

"Anyone who knows me knows that I have long revered the history of our game and the players, coaches and executives who built the league before I was fortunate enough to enter it," Gretzky said in a statement. "And it is no secret that I remain an avid fan who watches games every night and marvels at the young players who are leading the greatest sport in the world into the league's next century.

"As I've said countless times, I owe just about everything I now have in my life to the game of hockey and the National Hockey League. And I am thrilled to spend the next year celebrating its past, present and future with hockey fans around the world."

The NHL's centennial celebration will begin with the Centennial Classic on Jan. 1, an outdoor game played between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings at BMO Field in Toronto. Among the other events is an unveiling of the 100 greatest NHL players in history during all-star weekend in Los Angeles.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman looks back on how far the NHL has come in its first 100 years and predicts a bright future for the League 0:53

Gretzky last served in an official capacity with the league as part owner, head coach and head of hockey operations with the Phoenix Coyotes, a stint that came to an end in 2009.

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