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This article was published 22/10/2016 (1387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Wayne Gretzky is a proud man but he’s not afraid to be brutally honest about the state of his game.
"I stink. I’m really bad," said Gretzky with a chuckle after going pointless in Saturday’s Heritage Classic alumni game at Investors Group Field.
"At least I forwarned people. Mark (Messier) went down and snapped that first goal and went down and snapped the second one and I thought, ‘Oh my God, he could still play.’ Nobody would say that about Wayne Gretzky. I didn’t have any expectations and tell anybody I was going to be a Wayne Gretzky of the ’80s."
Helmet-less Gretzky’s best move of the afternoon may have been to don a tuque in time for the start of the third period.
"There’s only one National Hockey League and when I retired from there, that was it," added Gretzky. "I don’t have the same excitement to play pickup hockey. I love the game, I love every aspect of the game but I have no interest in playing with guys who were not at my level at one point in time. I don’t play hockey anymore.
"I play once a year. I love it when I do go out there, but I’m 56 in two months, and I’m not doing a road show. That may have been my last game. It’s hard now when it’s tough to tie up your laces."
Players were unanimous in their praise of the event.
"Great atmosphere," said Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth. "Awesome to see the fan support the Jets have and this community, as the team came and went and then (came) back again. It’s nice to see the great support in an outdoor event."
Another Oiler from the the 1980s glory years, blue-liner Charlie Huddy, was ecstatic to be included in the game.
"I really enjoyed it," said Huddy, who has been an assistant coach with the Jets 2.0 since the franchise relocated from Atlanta.
"It was fun with the stadium being sold out. The fans are great in Edmonton, they’re hockey fans. They’re hockey fans here in Winnipeg — we see them at Jets games."
Avoiding injury is always a priority for old pros in this sort of an event.
"It’s always a concern especially when you haven’t had the gear on very often," said Huddy. "There’s always a chance (of getting hurt), but everybody’s careful."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.
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