Fresh off of signing a television deal that will pay them billions of dollars in the next decade or so, the NHL has finally repaid Wayne Gretzky the money owed from his time as coach/part owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.
The amount given to The Great One is supposedly around $8 million, and will come as a one-time payment via cheque. According to ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun, the money will be coming from the pockets of all of the NHL’s owners. It is unconfirmed as to whether the NHL’s decision to pay its all-time points leader was the result of a Gary Bettman/Dave Semenko canoe ride.
The debt came to light when former Coyotes Owner Jerry Moyes declared bankruptcy and attempted to sell his team to Jim Balsillie, who in turn attempted to move the team to Hamilton, going as far as setting up a website for fans to pre-order season tickets. It was the kind of thing that Gary Bettman didn’t appreciate.
The NHL blocked the move and eventually took ownership of the franchise before finding new ownership in Renaissance Sports and Entertainment (RSE) this past summer. The NHL had previously tried to sue Moyes in order to recover Gretzky’s money, but the suit was dismissed.
After breaking into the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers, Gretzky went on to accumulate 894 goals and 1963 assists (both more than anyone else in history) in 1487 regular season games.
Since his time with the Coyotes ended, Gretzky hasn’t been a part of any NHL operations although he has worked with Hockey Canada. He has been the subject of many rumours; with the most recent ones coming after he watched a game in Washington. He has consistently denied having any plans to be a part of an NHL management team.
With his debt settled, expect rumours of his return to hockey in a more prominent role to only increase. Should the man, who is considered my many to be the greatest player of all time, want a job in the league’s front office, it is presumed he would be welcomed with open arms. For his part, I’m sure he’s just glad to have this all settled so he can move on with his life and family.
Gretzky hasn’t received the cheque yet, but it can be assumed that when he does will put the money right in the bank teller’s hands with a no-look pass.
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