The NHL has agreed to pay Wayne Gretzky the money he was owed from his tenure as a part-owner of the Phoenix Coyotes, a sum reported to be between $7 million and $8 million.
The settlement could bring Gretzky back to the NHL in the role of ambassador or team owner. And it’s not too far-fetched to think he might play a role in the Jan. 25 outdoor game at Dodger Stadium between the Kings—the team he played for and glamorized—and the Ducks, whose existence he’s indirectly responsible for because of the interest he helped generate in hockey while he played in Southern California.
A spokesman for Gretzky confirmed Tuesday that a deal had been reached between the league and Gretzky, who lost money after Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes put the team into bankruptcy in 2009.
The NHL had sued Moyes in an effort to recover money it claims it was owed by Moyes, including a sum on behalf of Gretzky. A federal bankruptcy court dismissed most of the league’s claims in that suit. The Coyotes were operated by the NHL until last summer, when they were purchased by a group of Canadian businessmen.
Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer and most recognizeable face, has kept his distance from the game since he parted ways with the Coyotes. He said several times that he wanted to take a step back, but it’s generally believed he stayed away because he was unhappy over not recouping the money he had lost. He did watch several games during the Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup run.
Four years ago he declined an offer from Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi to get involved with the club on some level.
But that might change now, and that can only be to the NHL’s benefit.