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I think Mr. Gretzky needs to take a back seat and relax before he has a melt down.
I don’t think its 100% his fault that it went down like this, but i think the baggage brought to the games was a distraction...

Canadian Press

2/22/2006 7:11:15 PM

TURIN, Italy (CP) - As promised, the buck stops with Wayne Gretzky.

"I'll take, and deservedly so, the responsibility of us not winning," Gretzky told a news conference Wednesday after Team Canada's quarter-final Olympic exit at the hands of Russia. "That's the situation I'm in, the position I have.

"I feel tremendously responsible that we didn't win. And quite honestly, I'm going to re-assess where I fit and what I'm going to do in the future.

"Hockey Canada is wonderful, my country is great, and I love it dearly. But I'm also human, too. It's tough and it's nerve-wracking. It's not fun when you don't win."

The Russians beat the defending champions 2-0.

Gretzky, the executive director of Team Canada, looked emotionally drained. He couldn't bear to watch the game at the end, leaving his private box before the final horn. Asked why, his eyes red with tears, Gretzky said: "I wanted to change our luck."

Gretzky arrived in Turin under a storm of controversy with the NHL betting scandal still dominating front pages in North America.

While repeating his innocence, he knew then all eyes were upon him.

"If we don't win a gold medal, obviously I'll get blamed, but I've been blamed for losses before and it's not going to change my life,"' he said during a Feb. 14 news conference.

He now takes the blame for assembling a team that on paper seemed superior to the competition and yet came short. A $97.9-million US payroll was shut out 11 of its last 12 periods.

The lousy tournament adds to a nightmarish spell for Gretzky, who recently lost his mother and his grandmother.

The betting scandal made things more unbearable.

Police allege Rick Tocchet, his assistant coach in Phoenix, is at the centre of the ring while authorities close to the investigation say his wife Janet Jones bet more than $100,000 on football. Authorities say they have not plans to take action against wagerers.

"Honestly it's been a horrible three months for me," said Gretzky. "Personally as you move forward your health becomes more important than anything and it's been a rough three months."

Few will forget Gretzky sitting glumly at the end of the bench after Canada's upset loss to the Czech Republic in the semifinals at the '98 Games in Nagano. This one may have hurt even more.

"Maybe this is a little tougher this time because you wonder what you could have said to the players, and how you could have helped them, and what you could have done to make it better," said Gretzky, who tried to rally the troops when he spoke to the media Monday.

"The devastation is the same, but the responsibility aspect of it, you feel more like a parent that maybe let down his kids."

In the aftermath of Nagano, there was a national debate and hockey summit to figure out what had gone wrong.

Gretzky said this time it's different.

"Our hockey is in good shape, it's not like panic has to set in, in our country," he said. "And this is a great example of why '02 was so special, it's a hard tournament to win. In saying that, it's horrible to lose."

He felt for the 23-man roster that may now feel the disappointment of an entire country.

"I actually said to Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis after the game, that now they know how the Calgary kids felt after Game 7 (in the 2004 Stanley Cup final)," said Gretzky.

"There's probably eight guys that were there in 2002 that are more devastated because they know how great it is to win. We all have a hand in this, we all have a responsibility in this loss. But there's no words to describe how devastating a loss this is."

He ended his news conference contradicting somewhat his earlier statement about possibly leaving.

"This country will be back in 2010 and we'll hold our heads high," he said. "I'll be there to answer all your questions, I'm not going anywhere, I'll take the responsibility no problem."


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