Gretzky living the great life

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

THORNBURY, Ont. In terms of where he is in his life, Wayne Gretzky is set up behind the net. In a perfect spot.

After being out of the National Hockey League for almost a year for the first time since he was a teenager Gretzky insisted on Thursday that his not feeling any bitterness or animosity towards the league or anyone else for that matter, and that he has actually had one of the best years of his life away from the game he loves so much.

He called lighting the torch at the Vancouver Olympics one of the highlights of his life, and he was also thrilled that the Phoenix Coyotes, the team he coached for four seasons before stepping down last September, had a good season and made the playoffs, something the young squad was unable to do with him behind he bench.

It was phenomenal to see the young Phoenix team do well and then go up and be part of the Vancouver Olympics, said Gretzky, after finishing a round at the Nationwide golf tournament on Thursday that bears his name. The Games were spectacular and the final (hockey) game was icing on the cake. So I really had a good year. Im really doing good.

Gretzky did not, however, rule out some day returning to the NHL in some capacity, though the suggestion was last year that he was not happy with the way the Coyotes let him dangle in the wind.

Everything I have in my life is because of the NHL, so one day down the road you never know, he said. But right now, Im happy doing what Im doing, and Ive had the opportunity to spend a lot of time doing things that I never had a chance to do going to different events, travelling around the world and watching my kids participate in all the sports that they do. So right now, its good.

The Coyotes, who were largely rebuilding during Gretzkys tenure behind the bench, matured as a team last year and pushed the Detroit Red Wings to seven games in the Conference quarterfinals and the Hall of Fame centre insisted he couldnt have been happier for them.

They had a great year and (Ilya) Bryzgalov was incredible in net, (coach) Dave Tippett did a great job and (GM) Donny Maloney did a nice job putting together a very good team. Whats amazing about that team, as good as they were, they got some really good young kids coming, so they could be really good for a long time, he said.

Gretzky said he has enjoyed the NHL as a fan and surprisingly doesnt ache to get back into it, because he has such a long career.

Its a great league, and I think the hockey gets better every year and the players are so talented and strong and big and fast, I thought the final was great hockey, and it was fun to watch and it was exciting as a fan. I think at the end of the day Gordie Howe will still tell you that you always want to get your name on the Stanley Cup one more time, but I was pretty lucky I won it four times and Im pretty happy about that.


Videos

Photos