IOC may enforce new look

But Gretzky still loves logo's lore

By RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA



Wayne Gretzky heard rumblings a couple of months ago that Canada's hockey team may be forced to change its logo for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Gretzky, however, didn't think it would end up more than whispers.

"I kinda chuckled at it because I didn't think it would ever happen," he said of his autumn conversation with Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson.

"Then he explained to me it did happen in the soccer tournament at the Summer Games. It looks like it probably is going to happen, and it's unfortunate."

The International Olympic Committee has a bylaw forbidding sport federations from displaying their logos on uniforms, which would include Hockey Canada's trademark Maple Leaf with a hockey player.

In years past, the Canadian Olympic Committee signed an exemption, which allowed the hockey teams to wear the famous brand.

However, the IOC enforced its own rules this past summer, notably with the soccer teams from Brazil and Argentina, and Hockey Canada expects the standard will be enforced at the Vancouver Olympics.

Gretzky was disappointed to hear about such a decision because of the tradition.

"Kids grow up dreaming of wearing that jersey, putting that jersey on, wearing that logo," said the Phoenix Coyotes head coach.

"They've played ball hockey in their back yards or ice rinks around the country wearing that jersey, so I hope there's a way they can figure out to make it work, so Canada and the other teams get to wear their logos. It's a tradition our country's very proud of and it would be a shame that they're not allowed to not wear that jersey."

Flames captain Jarome Iginla -- a strong candidate to be captain of Canada's 2010 entry -- didn't want to wade into the fray without more information, other than to say he figured whatever logo they came up with would look good.

Gretzky pointed out the decision looms large, considering hockey will be the marquee event at the Winter Olympics being held in Canada.

"The importance of the Olympic games from every aspect, whether it's curling, figure skating, downhill skiing, each and every sport it vital for our country. It's a great way for kids to live out their dream. It's a great way for them to do something they've dreamt about their whole life," he said.

"The reality is, especially the games in Vancouver, hockey is the sport. I don't think anybody would debate that, so I would hope somehow they can sit down and figure out a way to make sure we go in there trying to at least accommodate Team Canada wearing that jersey.

"I can't speak for them, I'm not sure the reasoning whey they wouldn't want to do it, but it would be a shame if we don't go on the ice without it.

"Maybe we should put the logo on our backs. Put the flag and the crest on the back, and put the number over the crest," he joked before adding. "It would seem to me it would be nice to figure out a way to get it all resolved."

Coyotes defenceman Ed Jovanovski -- a two-time Olympian -- said the decision to force Canada to strip off its usual logo made no sense.

"I think it's an irrelevant thing (for the IOC to worry about)," he said. "Why? It's been there for years. Myself, playing in international competitions, wearing that Maple Leaf with the player on it ... now they have to change that.

"I think it's silly to have to change it."