Wayne Gretzky won't play with alumni

Wayne Gretzky made it official Friday in a text exchange with ESPN.com: He will not be playing in the Winter Classic alumni game.

"The Great One" was touched by the way in which the New York Rangers, in particular general manager Glen Sather, reached out to him recently. But, in the end, Gretzky politely declined to participate.

ESPN.com reported recently that Gretzky already had holiday plans with his family. The alumni game will be played Dec. 31 in Philadelphia.

Gretzky told ESPN.com via text Friday that he spoke with Sather earlier this week. It was a "nice conversation," Gretzky said, but his answer remained unchanged.

Speaking of Gretzky, he's still owed about $8 million to $9 million from his Coyotes contract.

The NHL on Tuesday met with former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes in a mediation session. The league launched a lawsuit against Moyes in March 2010. Should mediation eventually produce an agreement, Gretzky will finally be made whole from the debt he's owed.

Still, a source told ESPN.com that the mediation session between Moyes and the league did not go swimmingly, so at this point it's anyone's guess as to when a resolution will come.

Pierre LeBrun covers the NHL for ESPN.com.