Peer-To-Peer Conversations: Wayne Gretzky on COVID-19, 2022 Olympics and extra


Within the midst of the NHL’s suspended season and the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, NHL legend and present alternate governor for the Edmonton Oilers Wayne Gretzky spoke with The Hockey Information’ proprietor and writer W. Graeme Roustan about how he and his household are staying secure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and shared his standpoint of how a participant’s priorities shift by means of a league stoppage.
Graeme Roustan: Right now we have now Wayne Gretzky with us for Sports activities Illustrated and The Hockey Information. Wayne, thanks very a lot for taking day out of your busy schedule to speak to us as we speak.
Wayne Gretzky: My pleasure. Thanks.
GR: You’re an govt with the Edmonton Oilers. From an govt standpoint, how are folks throughout the firm doing? What’s the directive for these workers? Are they working from house?
WG: Like every thing else, just about every thing is shut down at this cut-off date. Security is the largest concern. However not simply the well being and effectively being of the people who find themselves working, however most likely simply as vital are the mother and father and grandparents of these folks. So there’s an enormous concern. Like each different firm or every other enterprise in North America, the hockey world is at a standstill within the sense that we actually don’t know what the longer term holds.
Clearly, as a nation, in some unspecified time in the future in time, we are going to overcome this. The perfect recommendation I might give folks is that we have now to observe the trail of what the medical consultants are telling us. And consequently, we have to put every thing on the again burner. Whether or not it’s the people who have been cleansing the ice, cleansing the sector, serving at video games or dealing with advertising and marketing, every thing must be placed on maintain proper now. It’s a state of affairs of concern as a result of no person has ever been on this scenario earlier than. Hopefully, folks stay unselfish and perceive that what we’re being informed is for the good thing about each particular person and for the good thing about North America. So we’re all within the holding sample. The orders are most likely no completely different than every other franchise in sports activities or every other enterprise.
GR: As a former participant, how do you take a look at this? What would your priorities as a participant be in a time like this?
WR: Your loved ones must be No. 1. That’s what your fundamental concern is correct now, preserving your loved ones wholesome, whether or not it’s younger children or your spouse or your mother and father and grandparents. That’s the largest concern. Secondly, it’s your mindset. Again in 1994 after we had the lockout, it was completely different as a result of the world didn’t cease – the sport itself stopped. So that you weren’t restricted to maneuver, escape, prepare, prepare, be together with your teammates. In the end, we knew that ultimately we have been going to return to taking part in hockey. And that clearly occurred in early January, however no less than we might mentally concentrate on the truth that it might finish at a sure time. On this case, you’re type of underneath home arrest within the sense that you could’t go skate. You may’t work out together with your teammates. Your mindset is, ‘I gotta do one thing as a result of we don’t know if this factor will final one other three weeks or whether or not it’s going to final two months. Whether or not we gained’t be taking part in hockey once more till October.’ So mentally, it’s a more durable problem for the athletes as we speak. However all people is clearly somewhat bit nervous and scared, hoping that this doesn’t get any worse than it’s proper now.
You’ve obtained to consider your loved ones. However you additionally obtained to have that sense of, gosh, I obtained to do one thing as a result of six weeks from now the factor could be corralled. And hopefully it’s, and let’s hope for the most effective. And if that occurs, we might be seeing hockey in late June, July, August. As knowledgeable participant, and I can’t communicate for anyone else, but when the league mentioned, ‘OK, we’re cleared and all of the medical folks say it’s a go’, I’d hope the gamers have been considering the best way I’d be: that I need to play hockey, and let’s get on the market and attempt to cheer some folks up and do one thing we love doing. So hopefully this will get corralled and followers from throughout North America can sit by their TVs or go to a sport and have the ability to take pleasure in themselves and type of breathe a sigh of reduction that we’ve corralled this unlucky pandemic.
GR: Does the cancellation of all of the occasions have an effect on the participant’s psyche in any respect? Can they actually type of compartmentalize this and hold all of this different noise out of their imaginative and prescient right now?
WG: Properly, athletes are the identical as anybody else. They’re fairly worldly within the sense that whenever you see a suspension of the NBA, NHL or Main League Baseball, that it’s type of a domino impact. I don’t assume anyone even questions it. I feel that the gamers really feel that’s the best factor to do. I imply, I can’t communicate for each athlete, however I’d hope that’s what they’re saying – that that is for the security of the world, and that it’s much more vital than any sport. However on the opposite facet of it, sports activities is a way of reduction and leisure for folks. We are going to get by means of this. Sports activities places smiles on folks’s faces. And the great Lord is aware of we’d like some smiling faces proper now, as a result of this has been a troublesome time for lots of people. It hasn’t been enjoyable, and folks have misplaced their jobs, folks have misplaced their companies. It’s a giant a part of the psyche of our world to make folks smile, and so hopefully this doesn’t final an entire lot longer.
I wouldn’t thoughts seeing hockey in July and August. I feel it might be very entertaining for folks, and hopefully we get to that time the place the medical folks say we are able to begin going about our enterprise as regular. Let’s get again to a considerably regular life. It has modified quite a bit, and possibly quite a bit for the higher within the sense of extra aware now of crowds and coughs and shaking fingers and all that goes with that. I feel this has affected all the world, not only one specific place.
GR: You’re on the possession facet, however you’ll at all times be a participant within the eyes of most of us. Trying on the Olympics going ahead, with every thing happening, are the gamers considering extra about the way forward for hockey-related journey?
WG: I don’t assume there’s any query that we’re all far more conscious of what’s on the market in comparison with 5 months in the past. So from that standpoint, it’s not simply athletes, it’s all the world is extra conscious of what’s occurring. However I feel in the end, gamers like to play. And gamers like to compete towards the most effective on the earth. However they’re additionally very respectful. And so they’ll go away that within the fingers of the commissioner’s workplace and the (NHL) Gamers Affiliation management and a way that if they’ll work out all the small print, and so they can guarantee the gamers and their households that it isn’t unsafe to go take part, then I feel the gamers can be all for it. I simply assume that they should have that assurance, like anybody else in enterprise, that it’s secure to journey to locations like China. So hopefully two years from now, this can all be behind us. I had a thrill in 1998 competing in Nagano on the Olympics, so I feel all of the gamers really feel that approach.
GR: From an proprietor and govt administration standpoint, are you extra dialed into that now than you have been previous to this virus?
WG: I feel accidents, sadly, are at all times part of skilled sports activities. I solely performed within the 1998 Olympics, however I participated within the 1981, 1984, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups. I performed within the World Championships in Finland. Accidents are a part of being knowledgeable athlete, and you’ll’t fear about it. Are we involved that Connor McDavid would go and play with Group Canada and get harm and may’t play for six weeks? Yeah, each staff has that concern. However the different sense of it’s, why would you need to take that chance away from one of many elite gamers on the earth to take part within the video games? It’s going to solely assist our nation and assist the sport develop. You may’t actually fear about that. That’s simply a part of it. I’d be extra involved if he didn’t need to play quite than if he went over there and obtained injured.
GR: I first met you in 1990 again in L.A. You’ve been an L.A. resident ever since. How are you and your loved ones coping with this? 
WG: My daughter and her husband Dustin (Johnson) and the 2 boys are in Florida and so they’re hunkered down. There’s actually no socializing or something. My oldest son simply obtained married, and him and his spouse are at her people home. My son is in Phoenix, similar factor, type of underneath home arrest. And I’ve usually like everybody else have a 19- and 17-year-old which are at house and just about hunkered down. They don’t actually go away the home except they need to go decide up some meals or go to the grocery retailer. Actually, the socializing for them has come to a whole halt. However it’s like each different dad or mum. It’s powerful for youths to grasp precisely what’s happening. It is a exhausting factor for folks to absorb, and our household is not any completely different than every other household on the market. Like everybody else, we’re attempting to observe the rules that the medical folks put out every day and observe what the governor is saying and what the mayor of L.A. is saying that everybody is simply attempting to do their half.
The best factor about being on a hockey staff is the success of a staff, and that’s due to the unselfishness of every participant. And that’s the place we’re at as a society proper now – we have now to be so unselfish within the sense that we have now to type of abide by what’s happening and observe and take heed to the directions which are going to profit our nation. And for the well being and security of everybody, we have to all observe these tips. And so, my neighborhood is a smaller neighborhood, Westlake, and just about everyone seems to be attempting to observe these tips. And it’s powerful for everybody proper now. No one has it simple. It’s a troublesome scenario. I’ve quite a lot of associates which have small companies and make use of lots of people, and it’s not enjoyable for them proper now. It’s a troublesome time for all the world.
GR: I do have one final query about your dad, Walter Gretzky. He’s well-known round my manufacturing unit in Hespeler. He comes over for sticks or for a few years. He would simply stroll within the entrance door in Hespeler, Ont. and simply stroll by means of the manufacturing unit and all people is aware of him there. And so they love him there and so they nonetheless discuss him. How’s he doing?
WG: Janet and I are like each different household. Janet’s mother is near 99, and she or he lives in St. Louis, and we fear for her well being and security as a result of she’s older, however she’s extraordinarily sharp and wholesome. My dad, he’s at house. He’s on lock down. And my sister’s type of guarding the fort. It’s type of a vacationer cease and my dad lets anyone and all people by means of the home. Folks over the previous few weeks have been type sufficient to type of cease and never try this. So he’s type of remoted. And clearly, along with his well being points and his Parkinson’s battle, he’s a serious concern. We’re no completely different than every other household that’s on the market proper now. We fear for our aged. And all you are able to do is, like I mentioned, and I can’t emphasize it sufficient: actually take note of what the medical individuals are advising and attempt to follow these tips as finest we are able to. And, hopefully, all of us get by means of this and there’s a light-weight on the finish of the tunnel and individuals are smiling once more and sports activities are again on and folks can take pleasure in life once more.

Elements of this Q&A have been edited for readability.
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