Wayne Gretzky Named VP of Oilers Entertainment Group: Latest Details, Reaction

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2016

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER 27:  Hockey icon Wayne Gretzky speaks with media after unveiling the League's Centennial celebration plans for 2017 during a press conference at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at Air Canada Centre on September 27, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Wayne Gretzky is officially returning to the Edmonton Oilers.

The Hall of Fame center was named a partner and vice chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group as part of the unveiling of his statue outside Rogers Place on Wednesday. 

"I'm proud to be back as an Oiler and hope to be part of another Stanley Cup," Gretzky said

Gretzky played for the Oilers from 1978 to 1988, becoming widely known as the best player in hockey. He shattered NHL goal-scoring records and led the club to four Stanley Cup titles before the team traded him to the Los Angeles Kings.

That trade was perhaps the most polarizing in NHL history. A Canadian hero born in Brantford, Ontario, Gretzky was labeled as a traitor in some parts of the country for allegedly orchestrating the move. The ordeal was the subject of an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary, King's Ransom.

"It rocked the hockey world," longtime NHL executive Brian Burke told Kevin Allen of USA Today in 2008. "It was the day that the hockey world stood still and then it has a seismic impact on hockey in the U.S."

Gretzky's relationship with Edmonton thawed over the years. While some fans haven't forgiven the organization, the Oilers erected a statue of Gretzky while he was still in the prime of his career in 1989. He returned to the ice in 2003 to help the Oilers celebrate their 25th year as an NHL franchise.

Since his retirement, Gretzky's connection to the NHL has been a mixed bag. His stewardship of the Arizona (then Phoenix) Coyotes, which included an ownership stake, a hand in player acquisition and a head coaching tenure, was largely a failure. The team never made the playoffs in any of his four years on the bench.

Gretzky also served as the executive director of Canada's men's national hockey team. 

While it doesn't appear as though Gretzky will have a hand in day-to-day hockey operations, this will nonetheless be a celebratory homecoming for No. 99.


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