Gretz a natural fit: Fuhr

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

The Great One as the Gate One - Wayne Gretzky working the bench as the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes?

NHL hall of famer and former Edmonton Oilers teammate Grant Fuhr, who spent last season as a goaltending coach with the Coyotes, doesn't see any reason why No. 99 couldn't juggle coaching duties with his front-office job as managing partner with Phoenix.

Fuhr thinks Coach Gretzky has a ring to it.

"I've heard the rumour," Fuhr said yesterday. "I don't know if he'd want to coach or not, but he'd be a great coach."

A report in Tuesday's East Valley Tribune, citing "well-placed sources," said Gretzky and the Coyotes have all but agreed in principle on a three-year contract extension and that he would take over from Rick Bowness, who stepped in as interim coach at the end of the 2003-04 season after Bobby Francis was fired.

Fuhr insists he hasn't been made privy to anything along those lines, and hasn't talked to Gretzky specifically about the possibility of him taking a job behind the bench, but doesn't discount the possibility.

"I think it would be instant motivation for the players," Fuhr said. "I think he has instant credibility the minute he walks in the room. In this day and age, that seems to be something you have to have."

Gretzky's been at the management level with Team Canada since before the 2002 Olympics. He declined to join the Canadians at the World Championships to be with his mother, who is battling cancer.

"It's a nice, natural fit," Fuhr said. "If you're the coach and part owner, you probably get a little bit of say. I think if you're the best player in the game, that also gives you a little bit of say."


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