(It's been fun, sharing my stories with Wayne Gretzky over the past few days. Here's the last instalment.)
|Wayne as coach|
I see Wayne the odd time now when he comes to Edmonton.
One of the most amazing things to me about Wayne is how he always encourages people to look to the future.
Whenever we had a chat at the morning skate of a game, he would end by saying: “You’re coming to the game tonight, right? I’ll see you after the game.”
And he would. It wouldn’t be for very long because he had a plane to catch. But right before he left the rink, he would always say “I’ll find you when we are in town next.”
And he always did. His time was so restricted he often did not have time for a quick hand shake and hello. But he always did that.
I’ll never forget in December of 2008 when the Phoenix Coyotees were in Edmonton to play the Edmonton Oilers. I was on the bottom of Rexall Place near the Phoenix dressing room and watched the team walk under the stands on to the ice. With his hands in his pocket, Wayne followed the team out and, minutes before the game, probably had a million thoughts. He saw me, stopped and shook my hand.
“Cam, how are you? Everything OK?” he asked. “It’s game time but God bless.”
In the winter of 2002, Kevin Lowe had me phone him before every hockey game Canada played at the Salt Lake Winter Olympics. (Wayne and Kevin were part of the management team.) The night before Canada met the Americans in the gold medal game, I made my call. Kevin took it and said someone wanted to say hello.
One of Wayne’s special friends is Joe Moss, who has Downs Syndrome and can be difficult to understand at times.
Kevin handed Wayne his cell phone.
“Hi Gretz. How are you?” I asked when I recognized his voice.
“Joey!” Wayne exclaimed, thinking I was Moss. “How nice of you to call.”
And, he was serious.
“Sorry, Gretz. It’s Tait.”
There was a long pause at the end.
“Well, you’ve been drinking, haven’t you? Have one for me.”
|Wayne, Bill Comrie, Glen Sather and myself at the Northlands in 1999 in Edmonton|
PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR PREVIOUS PARTS OF THE SERIES