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
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
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