Remember when Michael Jordon un-retired again to play for the Wizards? Yeah, I had almost forgotten that too. I think we might think about Wayne Gretzky’s decision to coach in the same way. Wayne has always been more comfortable mentally with holding the mantle of the game’s greatest player than Michael has — Wayne never quit to play baseball, and retired at the right time, only once — but he may not be able to handle the mantle of greatest player * below average coach.
I’m sure that his players will respect him and play their hearts out for him — who would want to embarass 99? — but, in reality, Gretzky is too nice of a guy, and lives in too much of a bubble to be effective at the kind of discipline-instilling coaching that his young Phoenix team will need.
What’s more, Phoenix, since Gretzky’s group took it over, has always been more about how hockey should be (in their opinions) than how it really is… the kind of team that would trade away a guy like Dallas Drake because he wasn’t a Lady Byng player. Every trade rumor and draft choice story talks about how they fit or don’t fit Phoenix’s image, or Wayne’s image.
I’m here to tell you folks, the emperor has no clothes once he hung up his skates.