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Wayne Gretzky to own NHL Seattle franchise? Agent denies report

NHL: New York Islanders at Edmonton Oilers
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Mar 6, 2014; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Wayne Gretzky addresses the media during the first intermission of the game between the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Islanders at Rexall Place. (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Wayne Gretzky is going to get back into the NHL in some capacity, and one expects it’s going to be in a grandiose way. He’s not the guy who hands out an award he invented in Vegas every June; he’s the guy who runs the team that contends for the Stanley Cup that month. At least, that’s how we assume he sees it. 

So after his name was linked with the Washington Capitals’ braintrust – a “mutual interest” denied by both Gretzky and the team – his name is now being linked to an ownership group trying to bring an NHL franchise to Seattle.

From the NY Post:

Wayne Gretzky has joined a group of investors hoping to bring a National Hockey League team to Seattle, The Post has learned.

The Gretzky group is one of three looking to bring an NHL franchise to the home of Starbucks, sources said — but each faces an uphill battle in that league Commissioner Gary Bettman has not said the league is ready to expand.

It is not known if the Gretzky group or either of the other two groups are eyeing an expansion team or hope to move an existing team to the Pacific Northwest.

Granted, the Post’s previous reporting on Gretzky hasn’t always panned out, but there could be some smoke here. He attempted to buy Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in 2011 as part of an equity firm, but the NHL rejected the offer.

Gretzky’s agent, however, has denied the story’s accuracy. Via The Canadian Press:

Darren Blake, Gretzky’s agent, told The Canadian Press in an email that the 53-year-old Hall of Famer isn’t involved in any bid. “As you can imagine prospective team owners from various franchises call frequently to gauge his interest in coming on board. Seattle is no different,” said Blake.

Er … so … maybe it’s just “mutual interest” then?

The NHL to Seattle is something I still believe will happen, but the timing on it is a mystery. The League continues to claim it’s not looking to expand. The guy who owns the arena rights says he’s not building one unless there’s an NBA tenant first. And Steve Ballmer’s involvement with LA Clippers’ ownership drained significant money from the NBA and NHL to Seattle movement.

Whether he’s in or he’s out, it’ll take more than Wayne Gretzky to get this effort rolling in the short term. 

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