Sunday, August 14, 2005

 

Gretzky, Yashin, Bondra, and Selanne

Good Morning Hockey World!

What a great reaction from hockey fans to yesterday's Blog.

A quick note on Bondra and Selanne...It is my belief that one of them will end up in Atlanta..(Bondra most Likely) and Selanne in St. Louis. I talked to sources this morning confirming this...Tonight I have a meeting that will fill me in on several free agents that are left including some trade rumors. That will be Monday Morning's Blog.

Just a sidenote, make sure you read Alan Hahn's story on Yashin in today's Newsday...Great insights into Yashin... http://www.newsday.com/sports/hockey/islanders/ny-spyashin0814,0,3914116.story?coll=ny-sports-headlines

I receive several great stories from readers. I decided to post this one today regarding Wayne Gretzky coaching the Coyotes. I have to throw my two cents in about this. I believe that Gretzky will turn into a great coach for several reasons, First off...the respect of his players. There isn't a soul alive that has more respect from hockey players than Wayne Gretzky. And also, Wayne thrives in the underdog role. The fact that people are counting him out and questioning him, plays right into his hands. I know many people around Wayne questioned this decision. Many tried to talk him out of it. Don't ever tell Wayne he can't succeed....I think it is great for hockey to have Wayne close to the ice again.

That is my opinion...here is the opinion of one of my readers.

Gretzky
by Adam Poirier

The very instant after the first whispers were heard concerning the, at the time, very remote possibility of Wayne Gretzky coaching the Phoenix Coyotes, questions concerning the idea began springing up.
And for once, most of these questions are actually valid.
There are very few precedents for elite players becoming coaches in any sport, let alone hockey. In fact, the only example culled up by the local sports radio show was that of Larry Bird, the long time Celtics great who went on to earn coach of the year honours in a successful, albeit brief, coaching career with the Indiana Pacers.
Gretzky is an entirely different situation entirely. Wayne was not only an elite athlete in his sport, he was the best ever. Sure, that is open for debate. But his sheer dominance and fully realized potential, over such a lengthy period of time, is unquestionable. There has never been an athlete of Gretzky's ilk to move into the coaching ranks because there has never been an athlete on the same level. No other athlete has so totally obliterated so many records in his sport.
As a coach, Gretzky has less experience than yours truly. Gretzky brings something else to the table, however. An understanding of the game shared by very few, if any, others. Combine that with the respect he has earned with everyone, and you have one man with a ton of knowledge, and a room full of young men anxious and eager to soak it up.
The difficult part will be imparting a God given ability onto players who weren't born with such ridiculous amounts of ability. Can the Great One be patient enough with the not-so-great to get through to them? It will certainly be an interesting situation to follow.
All of this brings us back to the questions floating around the media and the general hockey world today.
Will Gretzky turn the Coyotes into a contender?
Will a failure as a coach tarnish the legacy Gretzky leaves as a player?
Is Wayne taking on too much, adding coaching to the task of selecting the Olympic squad?
The answers to these, and many more, will have to wait.
The job of exploring these questions falls squarely on the shoulders of bloggers such as me.
As for the issue of the Coyotes contending this season, one must look no further than their roster. They have assembled a mass of talented, serviceable veteran players. Their forwards are solid from top to bottom, their defense the same. Goal is a question mark at this point, but Boucher is hardly a sieve. On the ice, the Coyotes would be a formidable team with, or without Gretzky behind the bench. Adding Gretzky doesn't translate into contending. It may, should Gretzky turn out to be a great strategic coach, and also find a way to get his players to play with fraction of the hockey sense he did, make the difference between finishing 7th or 10th. Again, this is impossible to accurately predict at this point.
Gretzky's legacy as a player, as I mentioned above, is unmatched in any of the big team sports. His accomplishments on the ice, at every level, certainly speak for himself. Many people believe his records will stand forever. Forever is a long time, and I don't like to commit to anything for the rest of eternity, but I firmly believe that they will stand for a good many years.
He has succeeded at everything he's done, at every level, throughout his life. I don't think a failure here jeopardizes that at all. Regardless of his failures, or successes, as a coach, his records as a player remain intact. His international legacy and his reputation in the hockey community, are far too strong to be knocked down by this.
Coaching will certainly add a lot to Gretzky's plate, but I don't think he's biting off more than he can chew. Picking a Canadian national team, while seemingly a daunting task, is actually not that hard. They've already come up with a list of potential players for the evaluation camp, but let's be honest here. Most of us could come up with a list of what the team will look like, and probably be off by a name or two at most.
This would appear to be a win-win situation for Gretzky and the Coyotes. Gretzky wins because it's an opportunity to further his status as a hockey deity. The Coyotes win financially, and so does Gretzky I suppose, because having such a recognizable face behind the bench is sure to attract some fans.
The only concern I have with this whole situation is for the GM of the Coyotes. How would you like to be the one who has to tell Wayne Gretzky that he's fired?



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