Gretzky back with Coyotes after visiting sick relative

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Wayne Gretzky returned to the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday after tending to an ailing relative.

The Coyotes' first-year coach was in Phoenix on Sunday with wife Janet's 47-year-old brother-in-law, who is said to be gravely ill with an unspecified condition.

"This one kind of came out of nowhere," Gretzky said following his first trip into Canada since the Torino Olympics as the Coyotes were beaten by the Oilers 7-1. "We've got a big battle on our hands coming up.

"I don't really have a lot of words on this one. He's got a great attitude right now."

Gretzky, 44, who left the Coyotes after a 4-3 win in San Jose on Saturday, has recently dealt with the suspension of associate coach Rick Tocchet amid gambling ring allegations that also involved Gretzky's wife. He also lost his mother Phyllis to lung cancer in December and his grandmother in January.