Wayne Gretzky, We Hardly Knew Ye

Here's my own quick little story about the Great One, Old Number 99 Wayne Gretzky, the hockey great whose tenure as coach of the star-crossed Phoenix Coyotes officially ended yesterday.

I am browsing in the magazine section of a Barnes and Noble bookstore. It is just after last season ended with the Coyotes failing yet again to make the playoffs for the Stanley Cup.

Gretzky is standing next to me, an average-sized guy dressed casually with a ballcap on. I instantly recognize him, as he is universally known as the greatest hockey player of all time, which truly is saying something.

I decide to say something to him, which is something along the lines of, "Tough season, Coach, hang in there."

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He looks over at me and smiles. Replies in that wonderful Canadian accent of his, "Thanks, man. You go to the games?"

Used to, I tell him, when they were in downtown Phoenix, not out in the sticks of Glendale (though actually, the distance from my house to the Jobing.com Arena is about the same). I decide to ask him something.

"Do you really enjoy coaching?"

"Sometimes," he says wistfully. "I enjoy the guys."

The Great One pauses.

"I miss playing," he says.


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