Jokinen: Gretzky is a tough loss

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 6:57 PM ET

Playing under Wayne Gretzky for almost three of The Great One's four seasons in the desert, Fredrik Sjostrom saw the passion.

So the Calgary Flames winger knows how tough it must have been for Gretzky to resign yesterday as head coach and director of hockey operations of the Phoenix Coyotes.

"I saw it on the ticker," Sjostrom said yesterday after practice at the Saddledome. "I'll be curious (to know the reason) like everybody else.

"He's a good coach. Really passionate about the game — you definitely see that every game.

"It's intense on the bench, that's for sure."

The young Coyotes aren't any better having lost arguably the most talented player ever to lace up skates in the NHL as their tutor.

Olli Jokinen was only in Phoenix a handful of months before being traded to the Flames at the deadline last season, but the significance of Gretzky's decision isn't lost on the Finn.

"It's a tough loss, not just for Phoenix, but for the National Hockey League to not have him around," Jokinen said.

"He's a nice guy. He's learning, too. I think he's really good behind the bench," Jokinen said. "We had a young team there last year and he's been doing a good job with the young guys.

"I think we're going to see him back in the league one day."

Brandon Prust was there for even less time than Jokinen, going to the desert in the package for the top-line centre before an off-season trade brought him back.

He's thankful he can say he was coached by Gretzky.

"It was pretty cool. He's a good coach and a good guy, it's just an unfortunate situation going on there," Prust said. "That's the business side of the game.

"The team's got to move on, and Wayne's got to move on."


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