- Emily Kaplan is ESPN’s national NHL reporter.
Wayne Gretzky has stepped down from his role with the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday, effective immediately.
According to sources, Gretzky will join TNT as a hockey analyst next season. He had been heavily courted by the network and his good friend Charles Barkley, sources said.
The Hall of Famer and former Edmonton captain returned to the Oilers organization in 2016 as vice chairman. He worked as a close adviser to owner Daryl Katz and also has had a hand on the commercial side of the business with the team’s parent company, Oilers Entertainment Group.
The news comes one day after Edmonton was swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Winnipeg Jets.
“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,” Gretzky wrote in a message posted to social media. “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.”
Gretzky, 60, spent 10 seasons with the Oilers from 1978 to 1988, winning four Stanley Cups. His brother, Keith Gretzky, is on the Edmonton staff as assistant general manager. Keith Gretzky also joined the Oilers in a formal capacity in 2016.
Wayne Gretzky has served as a mentor to current Edmonton captain Connor McDavid, who will likely win his second MVP trophy this summer after leading the NHL with 105 points in 56 games.
With the series loss to the Jets, the Oilers have made it past the first round of the playoffs just once (2017) since McDavid was drafted No. 1 in 2015.
In his post-playing career, Gretzky has held several positions in hockey, including on the management staff for Team Canada, as well as serving as head coach and managing partner of the Arizona Coyotes from 2000 to 2009.
The New York Post first reported news of Gretzky joining TNT.
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