Thursday, June 16, 2005


Canada on their 'Wayne' to the Olympics?

(Ok, so that was the worst. title. ever.)

While "Spector" is seeing signs in the stars that the NHL could be back up and running soon, I'm also quite excited to see that it appears that NHL players will be a GO in the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

Team Canada made news by naming Wayne Gretzky (as he accepted after some pondering) as Executive Director of Canada's entry into the Olympics.

I know some of the 'purists' out there don't like having professionals in the Olympics, but these are the same people who cry every time a tree is cut in a BC forest. Damn hippies!

When the world's biggest sporting gala is on, I want to see the very best in the world compete. Would you rather see Rick Nash and Mats Sundin or some non-descript NCAA players and ECHL All-Stars?

Don't give me none of that BS that the NHLers don't care about the Olympic games. While American NBAers and some Canadian hockey players may give that impression, it is a well known fact that the Olympic games are much more important to the European players than the Stanley Cup and World Championships. When Pavel Bure was growing up under the Communist USSR regime, his big goal in life wasn't to have his name etched in the Stanley was all about the gold, baby!

As for Gretzky himself, Tom Benjamin wonders if Gretzky is really all that competant as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes braintrust.

I realize Wayne is a living legend and all that, but it seems to me that Hockey Canada and the hockey media make way more out of the appointment than the story deserves. Somehow Wayne has been anointed the Wayne Gretzky of hockey executives with hardly a murmur of media protest despite the fact that he really doesn't have any qualifications and despite the fact he hasn't exactly set the world on fire in Phoenix.

There is no real evidence to support the idea that Wayne Gretzky is an able hockey executive. He's been the managing partner in Phoenix for five years now and while the team he took over was far from a success, it wasn't bad. The team stayed in about the same place for Gretzky's first two years and then it went south with two awful seasons in a row.

Let's just sum up my thoughts (again and again)

1. Gretzky has shown himself to be absolutely over his head when it comes to off-ice business decisions (and his dad seems to be partially to blame). Failed investments in the CFL's Toronto Argonauts, a roller rink, and a very shaky business plan in Phoenix show that Gretzky is good at being taken advantage of because of his name, and isn't as smart in the boardroom as he is on the ice.
Remember when Gretzky signed a 20-year personal services contract with Nelson Skalbania (back in the WHA days)??
I wouldn't be surprised if he sold his soul for a Klondike Bar.

2. Gretzky is a great 'NAME' to have around anything related to hockey. In the Olympic games, all you need to do is select the best 25 player roster that will bring home the gold. There are no contracts or business plans to worry about. Gretzky gives Team Canada more prestige and marketability. So, unless Gretzky is wringing arms to have Matt Cooke center the first line, his addition to Team Canada is a plus.

The Canadians have been doing a fine job at International events and are still the #1 country in hockey. I'd like to revel in the positive news that is being generated and hope that the lack of insults and the amount of quiet meetings between the warring factions will lead to some high-level hockey being played by NHL players in a few months.

It's funny as of today, Pavel Bure still does not have his name on the Stanley Cup.

He may have his name on his athletic cup.

Anyway... Wayne should focus on running his team - the Coyotes. Taking on too much only presents a distraction. He wanted to be coach, right?
Maybe they could get Bruce Wayne for their team.
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