Gretzky unsure about return to coach Coyotes

Updated: April 13, 2006, 8:25 PM ET
Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- On a day the Phoenix Coyotes announced an ownership change, head coach Wayne Gretzky on Thursday remained noncommittal about returning for a second season behind the bench.

After the Coyotes' season ends Sunday, Gretzky plans to play in a charity golf tournament in South Carolina and then attend the International Azalea Festival April 24-30 in Norfolk, Va., where his daughter, Paulina, will be the queen.

"I'll make a decision some time after that," Gretzky said. "Sooner is better for everybody. It's better for me, it's better for the organization."

Gretzky's comments came after two Coyote owners announced they were splitting their partnership in the parent company of the NHL team and the Westgate City Center development complex around Glendale Arena. Coyotes Holdings majority investor Jerry Moyes will run the team and Steve Ellman, a developer with a 25 percent ownership interest, will take control of the Westgate project.

Moyes, Ellman and Gretzky joined to buy the team in 2001 for about $125 million. Gretzky will continue to have a minority ownership in both ventures.

Moyes said it was his "full intention" to have Gretzky back as coach.

Gretzky, whose Hall of Fame playing career ended in 1999, had never coached in the NHL before taking over the Coyotes this season -- and it hasn't been an easy one.

The Coyotes are in last place in the Pacific Division and out of the playoff hunt. And Gretzky and his wife, Janet Jones, were linked to a gambling ring allegedly run by Phoenix Coyotes assistant Rick Tocchet, who was put on indefinite leave by the NHL after being charged with running a nationwide sports betting operation.

Still, Gretzky spoke positively about Phoenix and the season.

"You couldn't ask to live and be in a better city or be in a better situation," Gretzky said. "But how long I was going to coach, I wasn't sure. But I will say this: I truly have enjoyed it much more than I probably anticipated when I started in September."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE