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Old 09-25-09, 01:46 AM
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Jim Kelley: NHL stuck it to fallen Gretzky

Not to go all Godfather and Michael Corleone on you, but really, after a summer of reporting and commenting on a lengthy list of off-ice issues, I was looking forward to addressing a few promising or at least interesting things that are going on in NHL training camps when the following struck the media fan:

Wayne Gretzky resigns.

Posting an epistle on his website,, the Great One resigned as head coach and director of hockey operations for the Phoenix Coyotes, saying the decision was "difficult." He also indicated that his hand was pretty much forced.

"We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected.

"Since both remaining bidders have made it clear that I don't fit into their future plans, I approached general manager Don Maloney and suggested he begin looking for someone to replace me as coach. Don has worked hard and explored many options. I think he has made an excellent choice, and so now it's time for me to step aside."

Gretzky did not elaborate on Maloney's "choice" and but sources confirmed to ahead of the team's Thursday evening press conference that former Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett will be the Coyotes' new head coach. Maloney recently hired veteran Dave King as an assistant and replaced Grant Fuhr as goalie coach with Sean Burke, a veteran netminder who once played for Gretzky and the Coyotes.

These moves did not come as a shock, but sources close to Gretzky have told that he's been stung by criticism of his decision to not be on the ice as coach when training camp opened even though he'd made that decision with the best interests of the Coyotes in mind. One source told that an even bigger disappointment for Gretzky was that the NHL had stated in open court that it would not honor his contract with the franchise should it be the successful bidder for the bankrupt franchise.

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