Gretzky a coach? Never say never

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 6:13 PM ET

If Wayne Gretzky didn't already have an ulcer, he certainly appeared as if he was on the verge of one.

Who can forget the anguished look on the Great One's face whenever Team Canada was in a nip-and-tuck battle during both the 2002 Winter Olympics and 2004 World Cup tournaments?

Keep in mind that Gretzky, the executive director of Team Canada, was either in the press box or in the stands when those panic attacks hit.

That being the case, just imagine the stress level he would feel behind the bench if he eventually does take over the coaching duties of the Phoenix Coyotes -- if and when NHL hockey returns.

"Listen, when people say coaching is a 24-hour-a-day job, that means you think about coaching when you're driving in the car, when you're trying to sleep, it just never goes away," Philadelphia Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said last night.

"Wayne knows that. He knows coaching is all consuming. Ultimately the biggest issue he will face is time management, and that 24-hour mental clock he'll be nursing."

Should Gretzky one day decide to try his hand at coaching, Hitchcock believes that the Great One will succeed with flying colours.

"I have no doubt that if he opts to do it, he'd be a good coach," Hitchcock said.

Keep in mind that Hitchcock knows of what he speaks, having served as an assistant coach under Gretzky's watch during both the Salt Lake Olympics and World Cup. Both competitions, by the way, were won by Canada.

"The only thing I know about Wayne is that whatever he does, it will be well thought out. He'll examine every angle before he makes a decision.

"Wayne really understands the game, both offensively and defensively," Hitchcock said.

When the teams were put together for both the Olympics and World Cup, Wayne, the most skilled player the game has seen, knew our skilled guys would commit to defence.

"I'm sure of this much. Wayne is a team guy. Whatever decision he makes, it will be in the best interest of the team."


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