Gretzky resigns from troubled Phoenix

Wayne Gretzky has called an end to his four-year reign as Phoenix coach and director of hockey. He announced the decision on his official Web site, stating the off-season problems for forcing his hand.

“This was a difficult decision that I’ve thought long and hard about,” Gretzky said. “We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected. Since both remaining bidders have made it clear that I don’t fit into their future plans, I approached General Manger Don Maloney and suggested he begin looking for someone to replace me as coach.”

Phoenix has announced former Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett as Gretzky’s replacement. “I have always been impressed with the playing style of the teams Dave has coached,” said Phoenix GM Don Maloney. “He coaches his teams to play the game with intelligence, discipline, structure, a sense of urgency and a team-first approach.

“We feel we have assembled a first-class coaching staff that is comparable to any in the NHL and are looking forward to Dave leading us to success for many years to come.”

Gretzky stepped down following a summer of turmoil surrounding the future of the Coyotes. The franchise filed for bankruptcy back in May, after former owner Jerry Moyes agreed in principle to sell the Coyotes to Jim Balsillie. However Balsillie wants to move the club to Hamilton, Ontario, but the league has intervened. The situation is still to be settled.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “As always, Wayne placed the welfare of the team ahead of his own in making this extremely difficult decision. While the Coyotes have not had the degree of on-ice success that always has been Wayne’s objective, there can be no question he has played a vital role in the youth movement that has positioned the Coyotes for success in the future.”

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