Did Phoenix hire Gretzky as a coach because of his track record? No. Phoenix ownership (correctly) identified 99 as a name who could sell ice in the desert and being a good Canadian kid he took up the charge because it married family and his love for the game while providing for the people he loved.
I’ve long wondered why people have been slow to state the obvious: the man couldn’t coach. It’s no sin, you know. Especially if you’re the best damn offensive player God ever delivered to the blue planet.
There’s an old story about Joe Pepitone when he was a young New York Yankee. Pepitone was struggling at the plate and decided to seek counsel from the club’s batting coach. Mickey Mantle. Mickey fricking Mantle. Anyway, Joe explains that he’s having a bit of a time laying off the breaking stuff. Mantle told Pepitone to identify the rotation of the ball out of the pitcher’s hands, that would give him enough time to adjust. There you go, Joe. Easy as pie! Mantle didn’t last long as a hitting coach, not many hitters around who could see the game as God allowed him to, and 99 was the same.
There’s no sin in being Wayne Gretzky. It was a crime to keep him around so long doing a job he wasn’t good at, it tarnished his reputation and forced an entire NHL team to wander the desert for a millenium. Or so.
Here’s a new definition of tough sell: Oilers at Coyotes on pay-per-view! Phoenix has a nice young team, with names like Shane Doan, Zbynek Michalek, Martin Hanzal and Keith Yandle. They’re 4th in the conference, +12 in GF-GA, 6-2-2 in their last 10 and a quality home team (16-6-1).
The Edmonton Oilers are 1-9-0 in their last 10 and have all kinds of problems. Their coach looks like the picture of Dorian Gray, their fanbase is becoming more vocal, their media is barking at them and their management is tilting at windmills. The education of Daryl Katz is in full sway.