Wayne Gretzky playing in alumni game; that’s about all the ice team he desires
Wayne Gretzky is ready to play hockey again.
Before you get excited, it will be in an alumni game Saturday between former Oilers and former Jets in Winnipeg. Still, the Great One — now a member of the Oilers’ front office — is getting back on the ice for longer than a minute or two.
Has he been training for this occasion, just to ensure he doesn’t shred any muscles in his 55-year-old body? Well, no.
“I mean, I skate once a year. I just really never find the energy, the enthusiasm to grab my equipment and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to play pickup hockey,’ ” Gretzky told reporters Friday. “I think when you play in the National Hockey League — you play with the best players and against the best players — it’s hard to go play Friday night hockey.”
It’s entirely understandable that the best player of his time (of all time, really) would generally skip anything other than the highest levels of competition, no matter how much he loves the game. He’s skating Saturday mostly to reconnect with old friends and help raise money for charity during the NHL’s Heritage Classic weekend in Canada. (He also took to the ice during his charity event in Australia in June.)
Besides, how many weekend warriors would be intimidated/flustered by being on a line with No. 99? Oh, about all of them. Who wants to deal with that?
So, yeah, better for Gretzky to stay on the golf course than to get back on the ice regularly.