No 'Great' salary in Phoenix

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- You might as well accuse Wayne Gretzky of stealing all the lifeboats from the Titanic if you believe he's taking a salary in excess of US$7 million per season from the Phoenix Coyotes.

The franchise is perceived as a sinking ship financially, and a published report out of Toronto claims he makes at least that much despite the fact the team is expected to lose as much as $45 million this NHL season.

Gretzky balked at the number yesterday afternoon.

"I wish it was," the Phoenix Coyotes head coach said with a laugh when asked if his salary was in that range.

"The reality is my partnership with Mr. (Coyotes owner Jerry) Moyes is pretty unique. My partnership goes along the lines of coaching and corporate work for the hockey club -- part of the salary goes into ownership."

Gretzky also does work for Mr. Moyes' personal company, Swift Transportation.

The 48-year-old bench boss is a man of many responsibilities in the desert. He's a managing partner, alternate governor, part-owner and head of hockey operations.

Still, Gretzky says what he takes home isn't far off what the rest of the coaches in the league make when you break everything down.

"The actual salary of what I take home is less than, or as much as a lot of the other coaches are making in the National Hockey League.

"There's nothing more to say on that other than I don't make seven-million dollars a year ... I wish I did."

Gretzky's salary might be the least of the cash-strapped franchise's worries. A terrible lease agreement and less-than-spectacular ticket sales contribute heavily to the losses Moyes has been forced to swallow over the years.

Uncertain exactly what's going to happen as Moyes looks for a partner or buyer to help turn things around, Gretzky believes the team is going to be fine in the long run.

"I know Mr. Moyes has met with three, four, five people who have tremendous interest in partnering with him, or buying it from him. I think it's really positive," said Gretzky, adding it's not a case of Moyes facing bankruptcy.

"It's more of a case of him saying, 'I don't like my business deal -- my partnership -- and it has to be rearranged. I'm not going to financially float this any more.' He made a personal business decision that he had to make.

"At the end of the day, do I believe this thing's gonna get cleaned up and rectified? Absolutely. Is it gonna be bumpy for a little while? Yeah.

"I will say this: Teams who've gone through this in the past -- recently as Buffalo and Pittsburgh have -- we're not in as bad a situation as they were when they went through what they went through."


Videos

Photos