Cue the Welcome Back music.
Wayne Gretzky is back.
The Globe and Mail is reporting hockey legend Wayne Gretzky is back in the NHL family after the league made financial restitution with him. Columnist Eric Duhatschek wrote that a source told him an agreement had been reached Tuesday with the NHL in which Gretzky would be paid almost $8 million (U.S.), which was owed to him by former Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes as a result of the team’s bankruptcy proceeding in 2009.
‘Well the names have all changed since you hung around,
But those dreams have remained and they're turned around.’
The Globe and Mail article said that when the Coyotes were purchased by Calgary financier George Gosbee earlier this year, the league moved quickly to patch up the relationship with Gretzky. Duhatschek pointed out Gretzky never went public the past four years with his disappointment over being frozen out of what he thought he was owed financially. He hadn’t formally severed ties with the league, but it was no secret he was no longer as public a figure at hockey events.
Since leaving the Coyotes in 2009, Gretzky has spent time with his family in Los Angeles, helping raise his youngest children Tristan and Emma, running his annual fantasy camp and doing promotional work for various clients.
'Who'd have thought they'd lead ya (Who'd have thought they'd lead ya)
Back here where we need ya (Here where we need ya)'
This news comes at a time when Gretzky’s name has been active in the offices of The Hockey News. As we fine tune our list of personalities for our annual 100 People of Power and Influence issue, we pondered where to slot Gretzky. In past years, Gretzky was No. 6 in 2008 as managing partner and coach of the Coyotes. That dropped to No. 8 the next year, then No. 16 in 2010 when he was no longer with the organization, but still a powerful ambassador in the game.
As Gretzky slipped gradually out the spotlight, his ranking fell to No. 29 in 2011, No. 21 in 2012, then all the way down to No. 76 last year, being on the periphery only as a figurehead.
'Yeah we tease him a lot cause we've got him on the spot,
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.'
Now that its reported the league has settled with Gretzky, it will be nice to see him climb the People of Power list. The game needs him and he needs the game. We’re not sure what capacity we’ll see Gretzky in in the coming months, or years. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings are at least two teams that would love to see him in the fold. But we hope we’ll be seeing more of The Great One.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN