Wayne Gretzky: Hockey Star's Home Life Has Tarnished His Legacy

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IJanuary 18, 2012

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 12:  Hockey great Wayne Gretzky answers questions after lighting the Olympic torch during the Opening Ceremony afterwards at the Main Press Centre during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on February 12, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The Great One has some great problems.

Wayne Gretzky has a resume that has no peer in all of professional sports. He dominates the record books for the NHL more than any athlete owned his respective sport, and he has enough hardware and jewelry to support a Third World country.

There was a lot of bad blood in Edmonton when Gretzky left, and his new wife/would-be actress was implicated as a reason for the deal. And he wasn't overwhelmingly successful as an owner/coach with the Coyotes. But those were hockey matters, and most of the hockey world still willingly defaulted to accepting his greatness because of his on-ice resume.

Over the last few years, however, Gretzky's legacy has started to become tarnished because of his family, not hockey.

It started in 2006, when Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, was at the heart of a federal investigation into an illegal gambling operation. In the end, then-Coyotes assistant Rick Tocchet was arrested and reports surfaced that Jones had bet as much as $100,000 on various events.

More recently, Gretzky's daughter, Paulina, became an online sensation when she started posting provocative photos on her Twitter account. Her account has since been taken offline, but she created quite a stir with some of the pictures she willingly posted.

When Gretzky was dominating the NHL back in the 1980s and 1990s, the media was much easier to massage. A superstar athlete like Gretzky or Michael Jordan could manipulate his image in a way that sustained his popularity.

In this era where social media rules the day, it's no longer possible to handicap the news cycle.

Unfortunately for The Great One, he can't control his daughter's iPhone or his wife's parlays. And because of it, his legacy is suffering.