Wayne Gretzky’s first season as an NHL coach might not have resulted in a playoff spot, but it was certainly eventful.
Gretzky, a Hall of Famer and holder of dozens of league records, had never coached in the NHL before taking over the Coyotes this season. The legendary center joined Jerry Moyes and Steve Ellman to buy the team in 2001, but on Thursday Moyes and Ellman announced they were splitting their partnership in the parent company of the NHL team and the Westgate City Center development complex around Glendale Arena.
The same day, Gretzky said he will wait until after playing in a charity golf tournament in South Carolina and then attending the International Azalea Festival April 24-30 in Norfolk, Va., where his daughter, Paulina, will be the queen, to decide whether he will return as coach.
“You couldn’t ask to live and be in a better city or be in a better situation,” Gretzky said. “But how long I was going to coach, I wasn’t sure. But I will say this: I truly have enjoyed it much more than I probably anticipated when I started in September.”
Gretzky didn’t have an easy season. He and his wife, Janet Jones, were linked to a gambling ring allegedly run by Coyotes assistant Rick Tocchet, who was put on indefinite leave by the NHL after being charged with running a nationwide sports betting operation.
Gretzky also lost his mother Phyllis to lung cancer in December and his grandmother in January.
The Coyotes have missed the playoffs for the fourth time in five years, and have lost six of their last seven, including Saturday’s 5-1 defeat to the postseason-bound Nashville.
The Blues are looking to avoid finishing with the worst record in the NHL— though they have already clinched the worst mark in the Western Conference.
St. Louis and Pittsburgh both have 56 points and two games remaining.
Lee Stempniak and Jamal Mayers scored in the Blues’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings—St. Louis’ third straight and 16th in 17 games. St. Louis gave up the game-winning goal to Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg with nine seconds left in regulation.
“I was looking behind the net,” Blues goalie Jason Bacashihua said. “A little farther to my left, it probably would have hit me right in the shoulder and we would have been in a shootout.”
Both goals came on the power play for St. Louis, which had been 0-for-33 with the man advantage at home over the last six games.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Coyotes - 18-21-1 on the road; Blues - 12-22-6 at home.
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