Former Edmonton Oilers great Wayne Gretzky poses for a photograph in Toronto on December 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Former Edmonton Oilers great Wayne Gretzky poses for a photograph in Toronto on December 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Wayne Gretzky steps down from front-office role with Edmonton Oilers

The 60-year-old says he will not be able to “dedicate the time nor effort needed to support this world-class organization’

Wayne Gretzky says he is stepping down as vice-chairman of the Edmonton Oilers.

Gretzky said in a statement on Twitter on Tuesday he is making the decision, “given the pandemic and other life changes.”

The 60-year-old Gretzky says he will not be able to “dedicate the time nor effort needed to support this world-class organization.”

The move comes one day after the Oilers were eliminated from the playoffs when the Winnipeg Jets completed a sweep of Edmonton in the first round. The Oilers featured the league’s top two regular-season scorers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.

“The Oilers, their fans and the city of Edmonton have meant the world to me for four decades — and that will never end,” Gretzky said.

The NHL’s all-time leading scorer and a four-time Stanley Cup winner as a player with Edmonton, Gretzky returned to a front-office role with the Oilers in 2016.

In his bio on the Oilers’ website, the team says Gretzky’s duties included working with the Oilers Entertainment Group team on the commercial side of the business, as well as supporting development initiatives in the district where the Rogers Place arena is located.

The team said Gretzky worked closely with owner Daryl Katz and Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson in all aspects of the organization.

Ken Holland is the team’s general manager and president of hockey operations.

Gretzky was not involved in day-to-day dealings with the media during his time in the Oilers front office.

Gretzky returned to his hometown of Brantford, Ont., after his dad, Walter, died in March and delivered an emotional eulogy in a nationally-televised ceremony.

Rogers Place opened in 2016, and co-hosted the Stanley Cup playoffs with Toronto last summer in front of no fans because of COVID-19. The Tampa Bay Lightning ended up hoisting the Stanley Cup in Edmonton.

The arena also was the site of the world junior hockey championship, played in front of no fans, during the most recent Christmas holidays.

As a player, Gretzky led the Oilers to four NHL titles before he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings in a blockbuster deal in 1988. He went on to play for the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers before retiring in 1999.

After his playing career, Gretzky went into coaching with the Phoenix Coyotes for four seasons.

Gretzky also was executive director of Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team in 2002 and 2006. The ‘02 team won gold in Salt Lake City.

The Canadian Press

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