Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is shown in this Sept. 13, 2008, photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
CALGARY - Wayne Gretzky will not manage the Canadian men's hockey team again at the 2010 Olympics, but is expected to be involved with the team in some capacity.
Hockey Canada president Bob Nicholson confirmed Monday that Gretzky will not reprise the role of executive director he had with the gold-medal winning team of 2002 in Salt Lake City, or the 2006 team that finished out of the medals in Turin, Italy.
"We've chatted for a number of months on this and also in the last couple weeks," Nicholson said. "It's best for Wayne Gretzky not to be GM given his focus on his job as head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes."
Gretzky managed the team in 2002 that captured Canada's first Olympic hockey gold in 50 years, but the team was not as successful four years later and lost in the quarter-final to Russia. Gretzky played in the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan, where NHL players made their Olympic debut and Canada lost in the semifinal.
Nicholson wants to solidify Gretzky's role with the 2010 team by the end of October when he also intends to name the managerial team.
Gretzky could play a role in selecting the next GM, Nicholson said, who also added Canadians should expect to see Gretzky at GM Place during the Olympic hockey tournament in February, 2010.
"Hopefully not just signing autographs. What Wayne Gretzky has done for Hockey Canada and the Olympics, it would be great to have him involved."
Gretzky told the Toronto all-sports radio station The Fan 590 on Monday that he wouldn't have the same responsibilities with the Olympic team in 2010, but wanted to lend a hand.
Candidates to manage the next Olympic men's hockey team include Edmonton Oilers president Kevin Lowe or Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, who were Gretzky's assistant and director of player personnel respectively in both 2002 and '06, as well as Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings and Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens.
Former Wings forward Steve Yzerman is a possibility to be involved in some capacity. He's been general manager of Canadian teams that won silver and gold at the last two world championships respectively.
"We're as deep in managers and coaches as we are in players," Nicholson said. "We've got to put the right person in with the right group."