Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Gretzky-Leafs rumors heating up again
By Pierre LeBrun
TORONTO -- The on-again, off-again Wayne Gretzky-to-Toronto rumors have resurfaced.
It happened last year, and it’s happening again.
My colleagues on the Fan590 radio station in Toronto got the buzz rolling Tuesday by suggesting that the idea of Gretzky as a fit for the Maple Leafs president job vacated by Brian Burke would have some merit.
Frankly, Gretzky as a team president for any NHL team has some merit. He’s the greatest ambassador in the history of the game.
But before we get ahead of ourselves on the Leafs and Gretzky: There have been no conversations between Gretzky and the Leafs -- which Gretzky confirmed to me via text Tuesday night -- nor apparently has there even been any conversation within MLSE walls about the idea.
"There are no discussions going on about Wayne as Leafs president," MLSE COO Tom Anselmi told ESPN.com via text Wednesday morning.
Still, the idea itself has some merit. You’ve got new owners at MLSE in Bell and Rogers, and they’re all about branding and selling stuff.
Is there a better brand in the history of hockey than No. 99?
Every time I’ve asked Gretzky over the past couple of years about his future NHL plans, he’s always maintained he didn’t have any. Out of the NHL since leaving Phoenix in 2009, the Great One maintains that he’s happy spending more time with family and is kept busy by his many charitable and corporate engagements.
But the NHL doesn’t feel the same without him.
Regardless of where it is -- it really doesn’t matter which team -- the NHL will be a better place when and if he returns.