by Ron Spence
I have always been a Wayne Gretzky – but never an Oilers – fan.
I thought that he was the best ambassador and player that the NHL – and the game of hockey – ever had.
But, he wasn’t much of a coach.
Of the 327 gentleman who coached one or more NHL games, the Great One has the 168th best winning percentage – between John Paddock and Jacques Demers.
Gretz wasn’t that great a coach, but he didn’t deserve the hatchet job that he received from Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic.
It was Bickley who wrote the authorized Dennis Rodman biography:
He also wrote some pretty negative stuff for the L.A. Times:
“The reputation follows him like a stray dog.
A mangy mutt that shows up every spring and won’t go away. Complete with a choke chain and tags.
Cliff Robinson, playoff no-show; Clifford Clank, postseason bust.”
It would seem that this bottom-feeding Arizona pundit has had it in for Gretz for sometime.
Bickley was slagging Gretz four years ago – after his first season coaching the Coyotes.
He wrote: “Broadcasters vote on the award, and Gretzky’s got more friends in the media than the guy running the free buffet.”
It was Gretz’s first year behind the bench and his record was .494 and Phoenix was 23rd in the 30 team league.
Lindy Ruff, whose Buffalo squad went 54-24-6, won the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year – for the 2005-06 season.