Gretz likes view from bench

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

Despite the personal trials and tribulations and his team's on-ice struggles, Wayne Gretzky is leaning towards another year behind the bench.

The Phoenix Coyotes managing partner and head coach -- who's surviving what may be the most difficult year of his life, both personally and professionally -- believes the potential for so much better in the 2006-07 campaign may steer him that way.

"I really like the situation the organization has," the Great One said prior to last night's Coyotes clash with the Calgary Flames. "We've got some good young kids in our organization, and great kids playing on this team and competing and playing at a great level.

"I definitely see this team as a team on the rise and would like to be part of it. We've gone through the tough times, which every franchise has to go through, and I'd like to be part of it.

"Having said that, at the end of the year, we're gonna sit down and take care of our family situation -- get through that -- and then make a decision."

Gretzky's personal struggles have come one after another. There was the passing of both his mother and grandmother, the gambling scandal involving both his assistant coach Rick Tocchet and wife Janet Gretzky.

Professionally, it hasn't been the joy Gretzky usually enjoys, either. The Coyotes, though not officially eliminated from playoff contention, aren't going to make the post-season party.

Oh yeah, there was the massive disappointment for Canada's Olympic team, of which he was the face.

Another year as bench boss of the Coyotes, however, could put so much disappointment aside.

After all, they have a solid nucleus with Shane Doan as the cornerstone and a plethora of up-and-comers, especially defencemen Keith Ballard and Zbynek Michalek.

"There's definitely a lot more light at the end of the tunnel, as far as our franchise goes. We played five defencemen under the age of 23 in San Jose on Thursday night, and all five played really well," Gretzky said.

"So we know the direction we're heading in is the right direction and we're not going to spoil the core of young players we have.

"You look at the successful teams who are dominant now -- Ottawa, Philadelphia, New York, Calgary -- there's a period of time where you have to be at the bottom, be patient, bring young guys in and let them grow, and that's where we're at now.

"The good news is we're gonna be a much better team in the future."


Videos

Photos