The Great Confusion
Wayne Gretzky has left quite a few folks rather confused.
Two days ago, he seemed quite clear, apparently confirming to Sportsnet that he had been approached by "multiple" groups about being involved in a bid for the 79 per cent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment owned by the Ontario Teachers Pension Fund.
He didn't say he was interested, he didn't say he wasn't. He certainly didn't say he had agreed to anything with anybody.
But the indication was he had been contacted, specifically by the Providence Equity Group, among others.
"Yes, I've been approached by multiple firms considering the purchase of MLSE," was the direct quote reported on Sportsnet.ca. Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos said today he got that quote and permission to attribute it to Gretzky from a member of Gretzky's inner circle, but was then subsequently told there was a miscommunication and asked that it be pulled from the Sportsnet web site.
Kypreos, however, said he remains convinced Gretzky was contacted about his possible interest.
Sportsnet's John Shannon, a longtime hockey television executive and former NHL executive, cited two other "impeccable" hockey sources confirming that Gretzky had been contacted and reported the story for Sportsnet.
"Wayne may be backtracking, but I stand by my sources and the story," Shannon said today. "I believe in them and what they told me."
But on Friday night in an interview with Fox Sports Tonight, Gretzky told a very different story. In fact, he suggested the total opposite.
"I can tell you unequivocably I don't even know who is in the running to buy the Toronto Maple Leafs," he said. "I have not talked to anyone who has the possibility of buying the Toronto Maple Leafs."
Gretzky told the radio interviewers he was golfing on Thursday with pro golfer Rickie Fowler, "minding my own business," when his phone "started blowing up" with calls about his possible involvement with an MLSE bid. "It was news to me," he said.
He said the Leafs are an "unreal franchise" and Toronto is a "special place."
"But I don't have $1.7 billion sitting around," he joked.
When the interviewers tried to pin him down as to whether he would have interest, Gretzky responded with quips and jokes, evading the questions. He also didn't say whether his business representatives had been contacted by possible MLSE suitors. And wasn't it a little odd he could rattle off "$1.7 billion" when he has no knowledge of the sale?
So where does this leave us? Totally confused.
No media outlet has reported that Gretzky is actually buying into a group looking at purchasing MLSE. But was he contacted? One major news outlet reports yes, one reports no. Conflicting reports, and a sense that someone's playing games with semantics, here.
As always, The Great One can create news.