Wayne Gretzky Resigns As Coyotes Coach: The NHL Should Be Ashamed

Matt Hutter@mahutter12Analyst ISeptember 24, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Head Coach Wayne Gretzky of the Phoenix Coyotes manages his team from behind the bench during his game against the St. Louis Blues on February 28, 2009 at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Just when you thought the Phoenix Coyotes' saga couldn't get any more embarrassing, it does.

Wayne Gretzky announced his resignation as head coach of the Coyote's today citing his realization that, regardless of who's hands the franchise falls into, he is not part of its future.

What an absolute shame this is.

As a coach, Gretzky wasn't very successful. 

His team never made the playoffs in his four years behind the bench.

However, as a mentor, owner, developer and ambassador, Gretzky was, as he's always been, first class.

Though the Coyotes' never saw playoff action under Gretzky (and for some time before that), the Great One poured his heart and soul into that franchise.

Identifying talent, developing players and striving, constantly, to get better.

Now, many coaches in the NHL are dedicated to doing these things, it's what they get paid to do.

However, Gretzky has given more to the game of hockey than could ever be paid back.

Without Gretzky, there would be no hockey in Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix, Atlanta, Florida or Nashville.

Before Gretzky came to LA in 1988, the Kings were barely a blip on the LA sports scene.

The Rams and Raiders were still in town. The Lakers were winning championships and the Dodgers were still LA's only baseball team.

Hockey was, at best, an after thought.

When Gretzky got to town, interest in the Kings started to heat up.

Just as "Showtime" was closing for the Lakers, the Kings started packing the Great Western Forum for one reason: Wayne Gretzky.

Within a few years, kids were playing street hockey in the same culdesac they used to play basketball. 

Roller and ice hockey amateur leagues were sprouting up everywhere and the Kings' silver and black colors were being worn more frequently than the Lakers' purple and gold.

I grew up in Southern California and distinctly remember all of this happening.

Seeing Wayne Gretzky's Kings play the Detroit Red Wings at the Forum in 1993 sparked my obsession with hockey.

A game I've followed and played ever since.

This story isn't unique.

Wayne Gretzky has inspired thousands of kids to play the game and is the primary reason there are franchises in cities that have never seen snow.

All the marketing and strategic planning in the world could not have done for the game what Wayne Gretzky did.

Were it not for this man from Brantford, Ontario Canada, the rink I play at in Ontario, California would not exist.

You cannot overstate Gretzky's impact on the game, and for that, the league owes him its eternal gratitude.

For that, they should have never allowed him to be put in the position he was today: feeling the need to step aside, because he wasn't in the plans of a franchise that would not even exist without him.

A coaching change in Phoenix was probably a needed thing.

But, as involved as the league is with this franchise, it should have gone to great lengths to make sure the Great One stepped down instead of stepped aside.

The league should be embarrassed and ashamed.


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