May 25: The Edmonton Oilers were eliminated from Stanley Cup contention last night in a grueling triple overtime game and now an offseason of change is upon them. Beginning that change is the departure of the team’s greatest icon, as Wayne Gretzky will step down as Vice Chairman of the team. Gretzky released a statement on Twitter:
With great appreciation, I wanted to let everyone know that I have decided to step away as Vice Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers effective today.
The Oilers, their fans, and the city of Edmonton have meant the world to me and my family for over four decades–and that will never end. Given the pandemic and other life changes, I realize I will not be able to dedicate the time nor effort needed to support this world-class organization.
I want to thank Daryl & Renee Katz, their family, and entire team for all the support and friendship these last several years, and wish them nothing but success.
There has been speculation for weeks that Gretzky could be headed for a role with one of the new NHL broadcasting partners, but David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period also tweets that more changes are expected at the top of the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) which owns the Oilers and operates Rogers Place. Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reports that it will be TNT that will get the legendary hockey icon, with a contract that will pay him “in the neighborhood” of $3MM per season to be a lead studio analyst.
Gretzky joined OEG in 2016, becoming a minority owner of the franchise that started his NHL career. At the time, it was announced that he would work on the commercial side of the business while also being a sounding board for the front office staff. Just having the “Great One” associated with the organization after leaving it so many years ago was a win, but that new era will end up lasting less than five years.