The Great One doesn’t think his former team is going anywhere.
Wayne Gretzky has been swooped up in all of this silly relocation talk in Edmonton these days as the result of being spotted at Monday night’s Seattle Seahawks game while Oilers owner Daryl Katz and some members of the team brass checked out that city as a potential new home.
Looking to dispel some of the rumours going around, however, Gretzky called into Toronto’s The Fan 590 on Tuesday afternoon and put the chances of the Oilers ever moving at the low end of the probability scale.
“Probably zero,” Gretzky said. “I just don’t see it happening. I think over time here cooler heads are going to prevail and Daryl and the city will hammer out a deal and get it done.
“I can’t see them moving. It’s one of the greatest franchises in all of professional sports. You don’t move a franchise like that.”
Katz and the city of Edmonton have been in a contentious negotiating process for a new arena for years now, and the latest development has led to the Oilers using Seattle as leverage in the process this week.
Few around the league, however, believe the NHL would allow the franchise to leave, as even in their outdated building, Edmonton generates more revenue than many American franchises.
Despite the issues between the two sides, Gretzky told the radio station on Monday that he feels they will find a way to get the new rink built.
“I say to people I just can’t imagine a deal not getting done,” he said. “He’s come to the table with big dollars and the city’s come to the table with some big dollars. They seem to be ahead of the game compared to other cities that have tried to get a new deal done... Hopefully ultimately both sides are happy and they get a beautiful building built in downtown Edmonton that will keep the Oilers there another 100 years.”
Gretzky also wanted it known that he has no ties to the organization and that his appearance in Seattle on Monday wasn’t part of any plan to do so.
“I’m not involved with the NHL... I’m really not,” Gretzky said. “It’s just one of those things where I was invited to go to a football game and I said why not. Any official capacity is absolutely zero. I have no stake or claim in any team in the NHL whatsoever. Went there to enjoy a football game.”