Wayne Gretzky Retires As Coach of Phoenix Coyotes

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky announced Thursday he would be stepping down due to the financial turmoil surrounding the team.

As the bankruptcy court battle between Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and the NHL over the sale of the financially troubled team continues, Gretzky announced on his web site that he was leaving.

“This was a difficult decision that I’ve thought long and hard about,” Gretzky said. “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.”

There was no immediate word on who would be Gretzky’s replacement. Associate coach Ulf Samuelsson had been serving as interim head coach during the preseason, and the team hired former NHL head coach Dave King as an assistant just this week .

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