Gretzky to return as coach of Coyotes

June 1, 2006 at 5:13 PM

PHOENIX, June 1 (UPI) -- Wayne Gretzky has decided to return next season as coach of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes.

He signed a new five-year contract Wednesday.

Gretzky -- who joined the franchise on Feb. 15, 2001 when the ownership group of Jerry Moyes completed the purchase of the Coyotes -- will continue as part owner, managing partner and alternate governor as well as coach.

"I'm very excited about building a championship team for the city of Phoenix and starting a partnership with Jerry Moyes," Gretzky said. "I look forward to the next five years with a great deal of enthusiasm."

Phoenix had 81 points this season -- a 13-point improvement from 2003-04 -- but finished 14 points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

In a 20-year playing career, Gretzky compiled 894 goals and 1,963 assists in 1,487 games. He was the league's leading scorer 10 times and was chosen for the all-star game in each of his 20 seasons.

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