Wayne Gretzky thinks the NHL would work in Hamilton.
Wayne Gretzky thinks the Maple Leafs are going to be "fine."
Wayne Gretzky isn't going to lead Canada's hockey team into the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Gretzky, Gretzky, Gretzky. Amazing how the man can still make headlines with the most innocuous comments, more now than back in the days when he surprised the hockey world by calling the New Jersey Devils a Mickey Mouse organization.
Now, Gretzky's thoughts on Hamilton or the Leafs are relatively meaningless. After all, what's he going to say? That his hometown of Brantford has as much chance of landing an NHL team as Steeltown? That the Leafs, now run by an executive that Gretzky's own Phoenix team unceremoniously dumped, are going to be horrible?
The Olympic stuff, however, matters, and its a testament to the goodwill that Gretzky has built up over the decades that all the errors made in putting together the team that floundered in Turin - remember shut out by Switzerland? - have never stuck to him. Nobody blames him for picking Todd Bertuzzi, or not picking Sidney Crosby. It all just rolls off him, and if he'd wanted the top job for Vancouver, you can bet it was his to have.
But he doesn't. So where to turn?
Well, common sense suggests it would be appropriate to turn the operation over to the boys from Motown.
Sure, it's going to be a group effort, and Gretzky will even be involved in some way. But having Steve Yzerman and Ken Holland at the top - give 'em whatever titles you want - with Mike Babcock going behind the bench makes an awful lot of sense.
For starters, Yzerman has put Canada's team together for the past two world championships, and given that he isn't currently managing or coaching an NHL team, he has more time to devote to the effort than most high-profile NHL executives.
Holland has earned a shot, both through his work with the Wings and Canadian international effort. He's among the top five NHL GMs, and might even be the best. Babcock, finally, took himself to a new level by winning the Cup with the Wings last spring, giving himself the heft required to stand behind a bench of NHL stars in a pressure cooker situation like Vancouver will be.
it's a group likely to do Canada proud at the last Olympics involving NHLers.