Gretzky watches Olympic hockey selection process from the outside

CALGARY — Wayne Gretzky remembers this critical period before the Olympics well.

Wayne Gretzky laughs after scoring during a corporate hockey camp with 15 kids from across the country in Calgary

Wayne Gretzky laughs after scoring during a corporate hockey camp with 15 kids from across the country in Calgary

CALGARY — Wayne Gretzky remembers this critical period before the Olympics well.

He was executive director of Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey teams in both 2002 and 2006.

Steve Yzerman, his 2010 successor, and Yzerman’s coaching staff will choose the next 23-player team and unveil it to anxious Canadian hockey fans Dec. 31.

Canada opens the 2010 Games against Norway on Feb. 16 in Vancouver.

“The next eight weeks is probably the most difficult because up until that point in time, you really have a list of 40 or 45 names,” Gretzky said Monday in Calgary at a corporate hockey camp for children.

“It starts to narrow down pretty quickly. What becomes the challenge, or the trickiness behind it, is that there is a lot of attention paid to who should be on the team and who shouldn’t be on the team.”

Gretzky was the mastermind behind Canada’s gold medal at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, which was the country’s first in 50 years. His 2006 squad was not as successful as the Canadians lost 2-0 to Russia in the quarter-finals.

He believes the pressure on Yzerman, who played for him in 2002, to make the right choices will be even greater than what he experienced in the previous two Games.

“You’ve really got to believe each person you select is going to contribute to winning a gold medal,” Gretzky said.

“This is the time of year that gets very serious for the management and the coaching staff to make sure they select the right guys for this team. There’s always a lot of pressure on the Canadian hockey team.

“Obviously being in Vancouver, the pressure on this team is probably going to be even greater than it’s been on teams in the past.”

For the first time in years, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer is not involved with either an NHL or Olympic team.

Gretzky stepped down as Phoenix Coyotes’ head coach in September. He’s still owed US$8.2 million from the club, which was purchased out of bankruptcy by the NHL, and there has yet to be a settlement.

“I’ve been to three Olympics Games, one as a player and two in management,” Gretzky said. “When you’re there participating, your focus is really the games itself and the practices, so you don’t get a lot of opportunity to see a lot of other events.

“Now that I’m not really involved, I can go up and enjoy all the events with my family, whether it be skiing, curling, figure skating or ice hockey.”

The 48-year-old from Brantford, Ont., was moving gingerly on the ice Monday among the 15 children chosen for the camp. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee recently.

“I played 21 years and never got hurt,” Gretzky said. “Now that I’m retired playing tennis, I hurt my knee.”

Just Posted

The City of Red Deer is reaching out to the community to see if anyone wants to move and maintain the Scout Hut from 1937. The land it sits on is needed for a women’s shelter expansion. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
City of Red Deer is calling for proposals for preserving, moving Scout Hut

The 47th Avenue land it sits on is needed for women’s shelter expansion

Students at Olds College will be learning what’s new in agricultural technology at the facility’s Smart Farm. (Photo contributed)
New agricultural technologies explored by students at Olds College

Olds College is launching a new SmartFarm program to help farmers and… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Zach Smith tips a shot off the post against Edmonton Oil Kings netminder Sebastian Cossa Saturday night at the Centrium. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Rebels name new assistant coach, open WHL season on Oct. 1

Rebels will play home opener on Oct. 2

Bobby-Jo Stannard, community development superintendent with the City of Red Deer, and Kelly Andres, city community facilitator, say response to the first mural has been extremely positive. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Mural artists making downtown Red Deer vibrant

Preparing for Meet the Street arts and culture festival

Softwood lumber is pictured in Richmond, B.C. File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS
While lumber prices drop, relief isn’t exactly on the way for consumers

Consumers in Alberta won’t see the benefit of falling lumber prices any… Continue reading

Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan's decision to travel to Arizona for a holiday has been sharply criticized by many.
Advocate file photo
Jason Stephan: Quebec’s actions undermine interests of Alberta

Prior to serving as a MLA, I structured many commercial partnership agreements.… Continue reading

FILE - Great Britain’s Andrew Matthews, from left to right, Ben Simons, Toby Olubi and Lamin Deen celebrate after their second-place finish in a four-man World Cup Bobsleigh race in Whistler, British Columbia, in this Saturday, Nov. 25, 2017, file photo. British Bobsleigh and Skeleton announced Thursday, June 17, 2021, that the four-man team of Deen, Simons, Olubi and Matthews has been upgraded to the gold medal for a race that occurred Nov. 25, 2017 in Whistler, Canada. The Russian crew that beat them that day has since been disqualified. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP, File)
Britain upgraded to World Cup bobsled gold from 2017 race

Driver of Russian sled was sanctioned for doping violations

Leylah Annie Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot Marie Bouzkova, of the Czech Republic, in round 1 of the Rogers Cup women’s tennis tournament in Toronto, Monday August 5, 2019. Leylah Annie Fernandez lost 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) to No. 2 seed Ons Jabeur of Tunisia in the second round of the Viking Classic Birmingham on Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch
Canadian Leylah Annie Fernandez loses third-set tiebreaker against Ons Jabeur

Jabeur now heads to the quarterfinals at the WTA Tour 250 grass-court event

Feist performs during the Polaris Music Prize gala in Toronto on September 18, 2017. Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist is hitting the road with what’s described as an intimate and “unconventional production” featuring all new music.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Donovan
Leslie Feist to debut new music in ‘unconventional’ and intimate ‘Multitudes’ show

Calgary-raised artist will debut show at Kampnagel Festival in Germany

Letter: Improvements coming to two intersections in Red Deer to help cyclists

A letter in the Advocate on June 9 with complaints about cyclists… Continue reading

Opinion
Opinion: Trudeau tight-lipped on Constitution attack

When exactly did Canada become a Constitution-bashing country? For nearly 30 years,… Continue reading

Gwynne DYer
Opinion: Western countries giving out vaccines to poor nations

At the recent G7 summit, U.S. President Joe Biden promised to distribute… Continue reading

Most Read