The World According to Gretz


The Dalai Lama of hockey has spoken. When asked by TSN about the selection of the Canadian Men’s Olympic hockey team The Vishnu, the Socrates, the Dean Koontz of all matters puck-related delivered the same response that even my 8-year old nephew would offer up with the right amount of media coaching: Essentially, “Yeah, it’s a good line-up. Hard to choose.”

TSN’s Mr. LeBrun, unfortunately, was forced by editorial constraints to reduce the full interview to the one topic of the concern. The discussion was much wider ranging and has been provided to us at JetsNation, by our TSN Insidier Insider, in full. We’ve extracted the highlights of the 17 hour-long discussion here.

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On the current state of the Oilers:

Hmmm. I mean, it’s… you know, Kevin and Craig and everyone are my friends and… (cough) S’cuse me. I, uh… well, it’s hard to really… you know there’s context, uh… (cough) Sorry, I had curry for dinner and it’s giving me wicked heartburn. I blanked out for a minute there; you were asking me Edmonton otters? I didn’t even know there were otters in Edmonton. That’s adorable!

On realignment:

I think 1967 lines are totally reasonable. It’s not about terrorism, it’s about economic sustainability and allowing for a peaceful co-existence.

On Dennis Rodman in North Korea:

Look, it’s not the worst idea in the world, even if a little misguided. Back in 1987, I was asked by Pol Pot to come to Cambodia for an exhibition game as a similar goodwill gesture to what Dennis is trying to do. It was difficult to round up guys to play but I managed one full line with me, Thomas Steen and a young Wendel Clark up front, Chris Chelios and Charlie Huddy on D and Ken Dryden in net. We were ready to go but the whole thing fell apart.  

Our private jet landed in Thailand and we lost Chelly before we could make our connecting flight. He was a wild man in those days and he had a literal wad of cash in his pocket that he was going to spend on what he called then “the best night of my life”. Tommy got the runs pretty bad, so he wasn’t going to be able to play anyway and when our military escorts arrived to bring us across the border, Ken panicked and started running. None of us knew why but Huds caught up to him and saw that he was trying to ditch the wire he was wearing. CSIS had asked him to gather intel but he cracked under the pressure. Oh, and to top it all off, when we finally arrived at Pot’s jungle camp, there was no rink and no equipment. They thought we were field hockey players. There were about 40 guys clearing brush with machetes trying to create a playing field for us. It was all a big cultural misunderstanding. We signed some autographs and went back to Thailand. I don’t remember much after that until I woke up back home in a Pizza Hut in Sherwood Park. Best pizza I ever ate. Chelly, man… he did know how to have a good time.

On the film ‘American Anthem’:

Well, Jan’s career was really in high gear then. We had met a couple years earlier but I remember when that film came out, I went to a matinee by myself at the old Paramount on Jasper Ave. I think I was the only one in the audience. Anyway, I loved the movie but it was because of Jan, of course. She was the most elegant and graceful thing I’d ever seen, like a swan with crimped blonde hair. I called her afterwards and told her how much I liked the film, trying be all cool and casual but she saw through it. She was like, “Its garbage. I know it. The world knows it. You’re sweet to pretend otherwise but it’s wholly unnecessary. I’m a big girl.” I knew we were gonna get married. That kind of self-assurance is the sexiest thing you can ask for in a woman. I knew she’d be a great partner and an even better mom.

That Mitch Gaylord son of a bitch though – if I ever see him again he’s gonna get another dose of the Brantford thunder that he called down when I was in LA on a road trip that same year. Some guys just run their mouths, you know?

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On Sochi:

Well, I worry, naturally. Those bombings in Volograd are no joke. The Olympics are a thorny issue. They embody, and I truly believe this, the best of the human spirit in such a unique way. What other worldwide traditions do we share, regardless of culture and politics? I know they don’t exist in a vacuum, but can you think of anything else like it, something that dates back that far, to ancient Greece? Come on, that’s a beautiful thing, that kind of connection to our ancestry.

But then it gets messy: the PED’s, the politics. And just from a local perspective, cities flat out bankrupt themselves for the privilege of just competing to host the games, never mind even being awarded them and the price tag that comes with that dubious honour. Who doesn’t look around their city and think, “Boy, we sure do have crappy roads and underfunded schools and a growing poverty issue” and second-guess the value of hosting some big corporate jerk-off pageant. But then you see those kids up on the podium, tears in their eyes, singing their anthems. I wish I’d had… well, it was a long time ago.

On his favourite album of 2013:

Janelle Monae, Electric Lady. That is some straight up stanky funk. Tasty.

On his time with the Phoenix Coyotes:

Shane Doan is an excellent golfer. I would have lost my mind out there in the desert without those trips with him and Teemu and Tocchet. That was a good foursome. All handicap golfers and can drink their body volume in scotch. We were a bit of a Rat Pack. Rick is a good soldier, a real team player. You should taste his marinara. He cuts the garlic with a razor blade. It melts right into the sauce. Genius.

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On future coaching opportunities:

Why, you know someone who’s looking? I’m kidding. It wasn’t my finest hour. You’d think “be where the puck isn’t” would be fairly straight-forward to teach but it’s harder than you’d imagine.

On the question of who is the greatest hockey player of all time:

I’ll leave that to you journalists; you love creating these artificial debates, don’t you? Well, go ahead and put us all in head to head competition in that EA Sports game, see what happens and let me know. Or, you could check the record books. That might give you some idea. (thumping noise*)

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*There the interview finished abruptly. Mr. LeBrun was confused but when Mr.Gretzky’s publicist picked up the telephone, she informed Mr. LeBrun that Mr.Gretzky had, in that moment, produced a Shure Beta 58 microphone from his inside jacket pocket, held it out sideways in front of him and dropped it to the ground. She was uncertain of its significance.