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Wayne Gretzky launches legal action against city of Glendale

PHOENIX - Lawyers for Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky are trying to keep his personal finances out of the team's bankruptcy case.

Responding to a motion by the city of Glendale to review Gretzky's income tax returns, Gretzky's attorneys argue that he is a California resident and is entitled to that state's privacy protections. They also say his personal finances aren't relevant to the complicated legal battle over the team's sale.

Glendale "has not demonstrated and cannot demonstrate that its need for disclosure of Mr. Gretzky's personal financial information outweighs any privacy claim by Mr. Gretzky in such information," according to a filing by Gretzky's lawyers.

"Mr. Gretzky is a public figure; in fact, he is one of the most recognizable sports figures in the history of the United States, and the most recognized hockey player in the history of the National Hockey League," the filing says. "Mr. Gretzky has a clear interest in maintaining the privacy of his financial records, and his privacy interest is one that outweighs (Glendale's) need for disclosure of Mr. Gretzky's personal tax records."

Court documents have shown Gretzky is paid about US$7 million a year.

Gretzky has been viewed as the face of the Coyotes, but he has kept a low profile since owner Jerry Moyes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 5.

Gretzky's attorneys say he "would not object in principle to producing non-private, non-privileged documents and appearing for an examination."

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