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Wayne Gretzky Wanted To Retire A St. Louis Blue

This interview happened two days ago, but with all the winning going on around here and the St. Louis Blues in first place overall in the NHL...well we've been busy.

But our friends over at InsideSTL have audio from an interesting radio interview with Wayne Gretzky. The Great One was a gues on the Joe Buck/Tim McKernan show, a new project that's soon to move to the Internet. But this week it was on 590 AM here in St. Louis. Yes, that Joe Buck. You can hear the entire interview (or read the entire transcript), but I wanted to point to two excerpts.

First is a statement from Gretzky about his leaving St. Louis to sign with the New York Rangers where he finished his career.

I thought that was going to be my last stop. Fortunately for everyone I moved on probably because I was older in age. I wish I would have went there when I was a little younger, but I loved my time there. We go back obviously with family there and it's a great city and a great sports city as you guys know and it's just wonderful to see that John Davidson and the Blues and the job that Hitchcock has done for that team. Hopefully this will be their year to finally win the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

That reminds me of a story I heard one time. Don't know where. Seems like it is probably true, at least to some extent. During the end of that season when the Blues traded for him in late February, general manager and head coach Mike Keenan made a contract offer to the soon to be free agent Gretzky. It was supposedly in the ballpark of what Gretzky was looking for. His wife Janet is from St. Louis. Rumor had it they were shopping for a house in Ladue.

Well the Blues advanced to the second round against Detroit and fell behind. They didn't look too good. Gretzky looked worse. During that series when it appeared the Blues weren't going to be competitive, Keenan pulled the contract offer off the table. Well you might remember that game went to a seventh and deciding game where the Wings won 1-0 in double overtime after Gretzky turned the puck over in the neutral zone, Steve Yzerman let loose a shot from the blueline, Jon Casey flinched too late as the puck sailed over his shoulder and part of my soul died that day. Maybe Keenan saw enough of No. 99 in pushing the series to seven games or maybe the contract yank was a motivational tool. Who knows. But when the season was over and it was time to negotiate, Gretzky is said to have proclaimed that he would never sign with a team led by Mike Keenan.

The other quote I want to throw out there for consumption is the Great One's assessment of this current team. He was in town as recently as January sitting in the stands. Here's what he thinks of the Blues (and the Rangers):

I anticipate both the New York Rangers, and St. Louis having pretty strong, good solid, deep playoff runs. Now saying that, a lot of things need to be going your way. Your team has to be playing well going into the playoffs, your best players have to be playing their best hockey of the year. And you've got to be lucky. You've got to stay injury free. In hockey, let's face it, usually the best goaltending in the playoffs ultimately is part of winning the Cup. If their goaltending can stay good as it has been all year long, both St. Louis and the Rangers have every bit of chance of winning the Cup as anybody else in the NHL.

So everyone pretty much admits that Gretzky wasn't the best coach in the league. Ok, he was bad. But the guy knows hockey. And he's saying some of the same things we've been saying about this team for awhile.

Must. Control. Unbridled. Optimism.

Any reaction from that or anything else from the interview? Buck and McKernan had Charlie Sheen on earlier in the week. Amazing interview. He new game situations from the World Series this year from memory. Click that link above and click Sheen's name. It's a good listen. And I'm not just saying that because I used to write for that website a few years ago. That gig about killed me.