Gretzky resigns as Coyotes coach

Sept. 24, 2009 at 12:59 PM
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GLENDALE, Ariz., Sept. 24 (UPI) -- NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky resigned Thursday as coach and director of hockey operations of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Gretzky issued a statement on his personnel Web site saying the uncertain situation with the ownership of the Coyotes led to his decision. The team opens its regular-season schedule Oct. 3.

The team has been going through preseason drills without Gretzky. Assistant Coach Ulf Samuelsson has been directling practices. The team hasn't said whether Samuelsson will become the head coach.

"I've loved the four years I spent coaching the Coyotes," Gretzky said in the statement. "Not a day went by when I took it for granted and I will miss the competition of the NHL dearly. It was an honor to hold this position and I will also consider myself especially fortunate to have had this opportunity."

Gretzky has been a part owner of the Coyotes since 2000 and was named the team's coach in August 2005. Phoenix was 143-161-24 with Gretzky as coach and missed the playoffs each season.

The Coyotes have been at the center of a bankruptcy action and Wednesday learned they would spend at least one more season in Arizona. Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has been trying to take over ownership of the franchise and move it to Ontario.

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