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Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gretzky’s latest denial his last, for now

February 15, 2006

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— Wayne Gretzky said he didn't do it. Again.

He said his own troubles wouldn't affect Canada's supposedly good-as-gold Olympic hockey team. Repeating himself there, too.

Gretzky arrived at the Olympics with Team Canada on Tuesday, recapping what he's said for days but is vowing not to talk about anymore: that he placed no wagers with a betting ring allegedly run by one of his best friends and possibly patronized by his wife.

"As I said seven days ago, it doesn't involve me," Gretzky said. "I've said it for seven days, it's over and done with."

But where he said it - at the Olympic games - was different.

So was the size of the audience. His news conference was televised live throughout Canada, where the NHL's all-time leading scorer is a trusted, respected cultural icon.

Now, like it or not, Gretzky understands his problems could immerse others should Canada not live up to its own immense expectations in a tournament it won in 2002 and is expected to win again.

"If we don't win the gold medal obviously I'll get blamed, but I've been blamed for losses before. It's not going to change my life," said Gretzky, who as Canada's executive director is effectively the team's general manager.

No matter what happens, the Phoenix Coyotes coach said he wouldn't again discuss at Turin the gambling ring alleged to be run by one of assistant coaches and longtime friends, Rick Tocchet.

"Quite frankly, this is the last time I'm going to talk about it," said Gretzky, the NHL's all-time scoring leader and arguably Canada's most revered citizen. "I've stood forward each and every day, and I'll talk hockey all day long, take any questions about the hockey team or the Olympic games. But, quite frankly, it's over and done with."

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