Gauthier, meet Gretz

SCOTT FISHER -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:20 AM ET

With the miserable weather the city has experienced the last few days, few Calgarians will have any sympathy for Denis Gauthier.

But the former Flames blueliner has had his own problem with his new climate.

"It's 97 today," he said as he drove around the streets of Phoenix. "This is the first time it's been below 100 since I got here."

"I don't like extremes -- extreme cold or extreme heat. But I get the best of both worlds. I spend the summers in Canada and the winters down here.

"I guess I can get used to wearing sandals in the winter."

Yeah, things are tough for Gauthier.

The 6-ft. 2-in., 200-pounder spent his entire career with the Flames prior to being dealt along with Oleg Saprykin to the Desert Dogs for Daymond Langkow last August.

He was a spectator for most of the 2004 Cup run after suffering a torn ACL in Game 6 of the opening round against Vancouver. Even if the NHL hadn't locked out its players last season, Gauthier likely wouldn't have seen the ice until after Christmas.

Now, with his knee fully rehabbed, Gauthier is looking forward to suiting up with the Coyotes.

As camp approaches, Gauthier, who turns 29 Oct. 1, is dealing with a different set of butterflies. He met his new coach recently and felt like a kid looking for an autograph.

Wayne Gretzky can have that kind of an affect on people.

"I just met him this morning for the first time," Gauthier said this week. "All I could say was 'Hi, I'm Denis' and then I walked away."

The Montreal product says he's not sure what kind of coach The Great One will be.

"It's hard to say. For some reason, I can't see him screaming and yelling, and throwing garbage cans around the room. But we'll have to see."

Regardless, Gauthier is excited.

"We're going to be part of history as the first team to be coached by the best player to ever play the game," he said.

"He'll have that immediate respect. With what he's done with Team Canada and here, from a management standpoint, it's clear that he has a brilliant hockey mind.

"It's going to be a lot of fun to play for him."

The Coyotes have added Brett Hull, Mike Ricci, Petr Nedved and Curtis Joseph and Gauthier can see how excited management is to hit the ice.

"I think they're excited to see how everything comes together."


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