Roenick ignited a mini-controversy Tuesday night when he left GM Place in Vancouver after Gretzky made him a healthy scratch for the Coyotes game against the Canucks. Reports surfaced Thursday suggesting Roenick’s days with the Coyotes were numbered. But Roenick says the situation was blown out of proportion.
“It’s kind of unfortunate that the media tries to do this,” Roenick told The Canadian Press on Thursday. “Especially with a team struggling like ours, to try and make it worse.”
The 36-year-old Roenick insists “there’s no problem, there’s no issue, there’s no controversy, there’s no animosity, there’s nothing.”
Roenick said after being scratched, he went to have dinner instead of watching the game in the arena.
“I was staying away from the media and having them harp on me as to why I wasn’t playing,” said Roenick.
Gretzky wasn’t impressed after the game but the two cleared the air during a meeting Thursday morning.
“We talked about obviously the past few days and moving forward here,” Gretzky told The Canadian Press in an e-mail. “I kind of understood where he was coming from in the sense that he’s got a lot of pride and cares about playing and still wanted to be part of the team and playing every night.”
Roenick agreed Thursday’s meeting, which also included GM Mike Barnett, was positive.
“We’re all on the same page,” said Roenick. “They want me around for a long time and I want to stick around for a long time, whether I’m playing or whether I’m not playing.”
Gretzky sees a future for Roenick with the Coyotes beyond his playing days.
“He was the face of this team when it came here and I want him to enjoy this year and I want him to love playing here again and love living in this city again as I said to him down the road here we’d like to have him part of our organization,” said Gretzky.
Roenick was scratched again for Thursday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“Wayne wants me to understand that as I get older, you have to accept different roles sometimes,” said Roenick. “Your minutes are maybe going to be less, and there are going to be nights where I am going to be a healthy scratch because he wants a different lineup or he wants to rest me to give my legs a rest. He wanted me to know why he makes those decisions.
“I said, ‘Gretz, that’s fine, that’s great. Whatever you decide to do is OK by me.”‘
Gretzky called the situation a dead issue.
“I think the good thing about the meeting was that he understood my side of things now and the team’s point of view,” said Gretzky.
This was supposed to be a big comeback year for Roenick after a summer dedicated to a rigorous workout regimen. But the 18-year NHL veteran has only produced one goal and five assists in 28 games while earning US$1.2 million. He’s also battled back problems.
“He’s on our team,” said Gretzky. “I told him he’s done a really nice job of sort of being a penalty-killer and part of the penalty-killing unit and the odd power play and basically a third-line guy. And he hasn’t been an issue in the locker-room, he’s been hard working in practice.”
Roenick also denied he was thinking of retiring.
“No, I still feel great,” said Roenick. “I can’t put the puck in the net, and neither can half the guys on our team, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to retire. I still can do a lot for this team.”