Gretzky: 'There's no story'

Wayne Gretzky, executive director of the Canadian Olympic men's hockey team, faces reporters during...

Wayne Gretzky, executive director of the Canadian Olympic men's hockey team, faces reporters during a team practice yesterday in Mississauga. (Toronto Sun/Fred Thornhill)

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:53 PM ET

Wayne Gretzky deked around gambling questions yesterday the way he used to dance past National Hockey League defencemen.

Made available to media during Team Canada's practice at Iceland in Mississauga, Gretzky dodged most questions about the gambling scandal to which his wife, Janet Jones, has been linked.

"There is nothing for me to talk about," a weary-looking Gretzky, Team Canada's executive director, said before taking questions. "I am not involved. It has been a hard week for my family and the only focus I have right now is this hockey team."

Before many questions regarding the gambling ring allegedly financed by one of Gretzky's associate coaches with the Phoenix Coyotes, Rick Tocchet, could be completed, Hockey Canada manager of communications Andre Brin cut them off.

One reporter referred to a story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal yesterday, in which Gretzky was reported to have lost more than $2 million in Vegas casinos and to have a credit line that lets him bet up to $25,000 per hand. Gretzky laughed and said, "Oh, gosh," before Brin cut it off.

The Gretzky who faced reporters before the Canadian men's hockey team flew to Turin last night was not the one the public is familiar with.

He blushed noticeably at several questions regarding the gambling issue and was more resigned than forceful with most of his answers.

A mere six minutes after he stepped in front of the microphones, Gretzky was gone.

He said he did not talk to Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson about the idea of not going to Turin.

"No reason to," Gretzky said. "There's no story about me; that's what I keep trying to tell you. I'm not involved."

The Associated Press reported that a wiretapped conversation between Gretzky and Tocchet, in which they allegedly discussed how Jones could avoid being named a participant in the ring, happened last Monday, after Jones allegedly won money on the Super Bowl.

That could support the theory that Gretzky had no prior knowledge of the ring.

Players and coaches don't think the Gretzky gambling issue will be a distraction for the team in Turin, they said.

"It is not going to affect us at all," coach Pat Quinn said.

"I think it kind of brings everyone together," said Shane Doan, who plays for Gretzky in Phoenix. "I would not have handled it nearly as well as he did."


Videos

Photos