Sunday, August 07, 2005

Coach Gretzky

PHOENIX (CP) - Wayne Gretzky has decided to become head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, the Arizona Republic reported Sunday.
Gretzky is expected to officially be named coach Monday, several NHL sources told the Republic.
When contacted by The Canadian Press, Coyotes spokesman Rich Nairn said he could not confirm the story and that team had no events scheduled for Monday.
Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leading scorer and the managing partner of the Coyotes, had said he would wait until a new collective bargaining agreement was in place before deciding whether to take on the coaching job.
According to the Republic, former Detroit Red Wings associate coach Barry Smith will be named as one of Gretzky's two assistants.
Former Coyotes player Rick Tocchet or interim head coach Rick Bowness will be the other.
Gretzky would take over for Bowness, who stepped in as interim coach after Bob Francis was fired in the 2003-2004 season.
Gretzky is the final year of a five-year contract with the club and is a longtime friend of Coyotes general manager Mike Barnett.
He has already committed to serve as executive director for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics in Turin in February.
The Coyotes have a new $220-million US arena, which they have yet to play a full season in. They moved to the Glendale Arena in December 2003, but they didn't get opportunity to open a season there before the lockout began.

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