SLAM!Sports
February 24, 2006
Grilling Gretzky
NBC's Bob Costas wasn't afraid to ask the Great One tough questions
By ROB LONGLEY -- Toronto Sun

It is not Bob Costas' fault he works for a network that sees Olympic coverage as a prime-time promo for the Today Show.

Or that in his role as "live" host, he has to fight to keep a straight face while introducing events he -- and millions of viewers -- knew the results of hours earlier.

None of that is to question the integrity of the lead NBC Sports voice.

In a studio interview with Team Canada general manager Wayne Gretzky, Costas didn't shy away from the gambling issue that dogged Gretzky prior to the Olympics.

The CBC, like Gretzky himself, just seemed to hope it would go away, ever since the Great One landed in Turin.

On the issue of allegations that Janet Gretzky placed bets through her husband's assistant coach, Rich Tocchet, Costas asked Gretzky if he "wished" he told his wife, "'Hey Janet, you know what, better not?'"

"Who knows I didn't say that?," Gretzky said. "But in life ... she's her own person and she did, as you said, nothing wrong. She did nothing illegal."

You can debate the fairness of the heat Gretzky took prior to the Olympics, but the fact is it still is an issue with at least as many questions as answers. Asking him a question is not only in bounds, but responsible.

Gretzky had another interesting response with a comment sure to rile hindsight heroes who thought Pittsburgh Penguin rookie Sidney Crosby should have been on Team Canada.

"We quite honestly thought, 'Why put Sidney in this position?'" Gretzky said. "We know in Vancouver he's going to be one of the leaders and maybe even the captain."

Morning sickness

Often it looks like CBC morning host Terry Leibel is trying too hard to be Brian Williams. Sometimes it can be annoying, like yesterday when she had a Terry Liability moment.

After Canada's 11-5 win in the bronze-medal curling match, Leibel got an indignant look on her face and said: "Do you think anyone will be criticizing Shannon Kleibrink for running up the score? I think not."

Of course not, she was going for a medal, unlike the Canadian women's hockey team which was piling up the goals in meaningless round-robin play.

Quick cuts

CBC's Don Wittman had words of warning for all those Newfoundland school kids taking the afternoon off to watch their curling hero go for gold. "(Brad) Gushue will have his hands full with the Finns." ... Apparently not all Olympic venues are created equal. CBC is much quicker at getting interviews at hockey, curling and figure skating than at speedskating and anywhere in the mountains ... Smile Cindy Klassen, they're playing your anthem. Canada's golden girl didn't exactly embrace the moment last night, did she? ... Mark Lee called the Sasha Cohen choke-job yesterday. "She has been known to crack under pressure," Lee said before Cohen wiped out on her first two jumps.


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