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Hodgemail: 'Should Gretzky return, and in what capacity?'

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TSN.ca Staff
1/25/2011 8:31:20 PM
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TSN's Dave Hodge sounds off on all the hockey issues of the day in Hodgemail. Write in to answer Dave's weekly question and watch the NHL on TSN tonight to see if he reads your response.

The Great One has hit the half-century mark.

That's right, Wayne Gretzky - the man who provided hockey fans with countless memories from his 20-year NHL career - is 50 years old.

Gretzky played in 1,487 regular season games, registering an untouchable 2,857 points. He was a four-time Stanley Cup winner, a nine-time Hart Trophy winner, scored 50 goals in 39 games and had 215 points in a season.

Gretzky was also head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, though his time behind the bench wasn't nearly as successful as his time on the ice.

Nevertheless, there's no doubt that Gretzky is among the greatest hockey players to ever live - if not the greatest.

His contributions to the game have been immeasurable, both on and off the ice. He was almost single-handedly responsible for growing the game in the United States while reinforcing its cultural importance and prominence in Canada. And more than a decade after he retired as a player, No. 99 still dominates the record books.

Gretzky has kept a very low public profile since stepping away from the Coyotes a few years ago. But with such a large footprint still left on the game and a passion for hockey, it's always a possibility that some day soon The Great One could be lending his presence to the NHL again in one way or another.

There are plenty of fans holding out hope that he will step in to contribute to both the game and his own legacy in some tangible form.

So here's Dave's question to you: "Should Wayne Gretzky return to the NHL, and if so, in what capacity?"

And here are the answers that Dave liked best:

"He should be made available in Friday's NHL All-Star draft."

Max in Toronto

"I'm not saying he'd help them (the Leafs) win games, but he'd help them make money. I'd buy a Leafs' jersey with 99 on the back."

Malcolm in Toronto

"Fans of the Oilers deserve to see him again, and I have a way. Cheerleading is something he's never done."

Matt in Edmonton

"Sorry to say, he should settle for being a media attraction. He set the bar so high on the ice that he'll never succeed like that any other way."

DJ in Pittsburgh, PA

"Why not advisor to the Commissioner?  Or better still……..you know……."

Dean on TSN Facebook

And Dave's reply to all:

22 years after Wayne Gretzky's last season as the NHL's best player, which was marked by his ninth and last Hart Trophy, he is still the hockey name that everybody knows best and that everybody admires and respects most.

His name, more than any other, still says "hockey" to the United States and his name will always say "Canada" to the world.

Sidney Crosby may be on his way to that distinction, but he's 23. When Gretzky turns 50 tomorrow, his fans will be saying the same thing: it seems like only yesterday.

What I'm trying to say is that Wayne Gretzky doesn't need to return to the NHL to remind people of who he is or what he did. He could be an owner or a GM or a coach at the drop of a hint, but obviously, for now at least, he can live happily without that, and he'll never have to live without hockey, as such.

So 'Happy Birthday' at 50 is probably happiest for him without a line change to make. The day he wants to worry about naming a starting goalie or signing a free agent may never come, and that'll be fine. It should be fine with us, too.

Hodgemail - Gretzky (Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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