Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The trials and tribulations of Coach Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky
Expect that to become a headline near you in the future, once Wayne Gretzky does step behind the bench in Phoenix. He'll be guiding a young team that hasn't experience much success since travelling to the desert and, according to some, may be doing so in an effort to save the franchise.

I can't help but think that The Great One is following a similar path to Mario Lemieux when the Penguins owner stepped on the ice. Both men had legendary careers and more than enough financial backing that they could step away from the game. In order to protect their interests in their struggling franchises, however, they decided to become even more involved in the daily toils. Personally, I hope the precarious economics in their respective cities haven't hit them too hard in the cheque book.

Scott Burnside has an interesting piece on Gretzky's move behind the bench posted on ESPN.com:

He will be responsible for the everyday performances of players he did not necessarily select and might not even like. He will be forced to answer, on a daily basis, for those performances. When the Coyotes lose, and beyond that if they lose enough to fail to make the playoffs, Gretzky will have to answer for that, as well.

There has been some debate as to how strong Gretzky's coaching mettle is, but the real test comes in October when he faces the daily grind. Especially if it's a losing grind — something I fully expect for the Desert Dogs, with or without the likes of Brett Hull. And doing it in front of an empty building, well, that'll be a whole new challenge for the man used to filling the seats.

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