TORONTO - If only the chatter of Wayne Gretzky coming to the Maple Leafs could have come in 1983 instead of 2013.
But if it did happen now, few in Leaf Nation would object.
And now that the NHL has finally settled up its $8-million outstanding debt with the Great One, most agree the legend from Brantford will now, if he chooses to, feel better about getting back involved in the game.
He basically walked away from the NHL after the Phoenix Coyotes bankruptcy that left him being stiffed.
“He’s totally out of it,” Walter Gretzky told me in 2009. “He’s had it. I think he’s done.”
Since then Wayne Gretzky has been scarce around the NHL.
Four years later could this now change?
Reports that the NHL has agreed to pay the money has created speculation that the Number 99 will return to the league in some capacity.
It certainly made no sense for the league to have its most important record holder and arguably greatest-ever player being on the sidelines and also harbouring bitter resentment.
One source told me that even Maple Leafs co-owner Larry Tanenbaum has said behind the scenes that it just wasnít right and needed to be dealt with.