EDMONTON — Wayne Gretzky led the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cups on the ice. Now he has the chance to help lead them to more glory from the front office.
The Great One has been named partner and vice-chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group. The Oilers made the announcement Wednesday at an unveiling of the iconic Gretzky statue at the team’s new arena, Rogers Place.
"This is a really great opportunity for me to get back into the game and have a chance to do what we all want to do, win a Stanley Cup," Gretzky said.
Team owner Daryl Katz said Gretzky will work with Katz and team president Bob Nicholson on "all aspects of OEG business," but stressed that general manager Peter Chiarelli will continue to call the shots in hockey operations.
"(Chiarelli) remains 100 per cent accountable for the team on the ice," Katz said.
Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, hasn’t held an official job in a league front office since he was part-owner, coach and head of hockey operations with the Phoenix Coyotes. He left the team in 2009.
Last month, the NHL announced Gretzky would be its "ambassador" for next year’s centennial festivities.
The move comes as the Oilers open the 2016-17 season filled with optimism despite a decade of futility. In addition to the new arena, they have recently named teen phenom Connor McDavid captain and revamped the roster in the off-season.
"This organization has been put into place over the past few years and it’s a machine that’s headed in the right direction," Gretzky said. "It’s a group very capable of winning the Stanley Cup, and hopefully I’m part of that group in the future."
Gretzky led the Oilers to Stanley Cup titles in 1984, 1985, 1987 and 1988. He holds several NHL records including most career points (2,857), goals (894), assists (1,963) and goals in a season (92).