Happy Days for Gretzky

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:09 AM ET

If Wayne Gretzky is going to coach the Phoenix Coyotes -- and it sure sounds like that will happen -- he will not make it official until after the NHL entry draft next Saturday.

The Great One said as much yesterday at a news conference at Wayne Gretzky's restaurant, where his daughter, Paulina, 16, was introduced as the cover girl for Flare magazine.

"(Today) is the (draft) lottery and next Saturday is the draft and we're going to hold off for eight days until we announce anything," Gretzky, the Coyotes' managing partner, said. "We'll announce (the coaching situation) after the draft."

The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons reported Sunday that Gretzky is actively looking for assistants to fill out his staff.

"If you can't play, the next best thing is coaching," Gretzky told TSN yesterday.

Gretzky was a happy man for several reasons. This week, his mother, Phyllis, who has been undergoing chemotherapy after being diagnosed with lung cancer, received a good medical report.

"It has been a fun week for us," Gretzky said. "There was great news with my mother's cancer (Wednesday) and things are going well for her. The NHL is coming back together and we're going to play hockey again, so it has been a great couple of days for everyone."

Gretzky didn't hesitate when asked what the greatest challenge will be for hockey when the NHL resumes play.

"To reunite the players with the fans again," he said. "One of the greatest things about our sport is the players themselves."

That will be more difficult in Arizona than Canada.

"Absolutely, no question," Gretzky said. "(But) Phoenix is a great sports city. We've been a horrible team the past couple of years and (fans) have the right not to be intrigued by our team and our organization.

"But we feel the new collective bargaining agreement is positive for our organization."


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