Wayne Gretzky turns 50-years-old on Wednesday, and all of a sudden The Great One is back in the spotlight.
In an interview about his birthday last week, Gretzky said that if the New York Rangers play in next year’s Winter Classic and there’s an alumni game, he’s on board.
That should be all the NHL needs to hear.
As one of three Original Six teams that has yet to play in a Winter Classic, the Rangers were considered to be a strong option for the 2012 Winter Classic anyway. This year’s resurgence has already added to the Rangers’ case, but the tantalising option of trotting Gretzky out once again is too good to pass up.
Gretzky has been distant from the NHL since stepping down from the Phoenix Coyotes in 2009, but his influence on the game remains huge. Imagine the publicity of Gretzky returning to the ice for the first time since his 2003 alumni appearance with the Oilers, and simultaneously returning to an executive role with the NHL after two years away from the league.
That storyline would surely play well on a second instalment of “24/7.”
In addition to Gretzky, a Rangers alumni game could feature a host of huge names that would surely be interested in skating with The Great One. The free-spending Rangers have picked up plenty of recognisable superstars over the last 20 years, and the NHL has a real chance to create even more drama leading up to the Winter Classic with a well-organised alumni game. Check out this list of possible participants: Mark Messier, Mike Richter, Brian Leetch, Brendan Shanahan, Theo Fleury, Pavel Bure, Eric Lindros, Pat LaFontaine, Luc Robitaille, etc.
The NHL might have already decided on a Rangers/Flyers match up for next year, but if it hasn’t, Gretzky’s return should seal the deal.
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