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GM, Great One talked in June about possibility

10/14/2004 - Phoenix Coyotes

PHOENIX -- Phoenix managing partner Wayne Gretzky, asked if he was interested in coaching the Coyotes, put the idea on the back burner.

"We left it that he would continue the conversation if he had any interest," general manager Mike Barnett said Thursday. "Since then, Wayne hasn't brought it up, nor have I."

Barnett said the conversation took place nearly four months ago, before the NHL draft in June.

Gretzky, who declined further interviews, told the East Valley Tribune that his personal and business commitments left him little time for coaching.

"It's the closest thing to playing, and I do miss being around the team atmosphere," Gretzky said. "But I certainly have a lot of other things to occupy my time that are also exciting. Coaching is something you have to throw yourself into. The daily preparation
is a tough job."

There is no reason for Gretzky to decide immediately -- Thursday was the 29th day of the NHL lockout, and no talks are scheduled on a new collective bargaining agreement.

Rick Bowness, who is still on the roster as interim coach, was 2-12-3-3 after taking over when Bob Francis was fired in late February. Phoenix won 22 games in all and finished 23 points out of playoff contention.

But the Coyotes should be an attractive option for a first-time coach after a busy offseason that included the addition of forwards like Mike Ricci, Brett Hull, Boyd Devereaux and Petr Nedved and defenseman Sean O'Donnell.

Gretzky also wants to stay on with the franchise that he anchored in Arizona by joining forces with then-would-be owner Steve Ellman in June 2002. Gretzky, who owns 17 percent of the team, is in the final year of a five-year partnership with Ellman and co-owner Jerry Moyes.