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12/14/2006 10:58:48 AM

Jeremy Roenick's decision to walk out on the Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday night could have long term ramifications for his career in Arizona.

Roenick was scratched from Tuesday night's game against Vancouver for what was termed a back injury, despite the fact the veteran forward said he felt healthy enough to play. Rather than remain at the rink, Roenick elected to leave and ended up watching part of the game at a nearby restaurant while eating dinner.

The decision to abandon his teammates did not sit well with head coach Wayne Gretzky.

"I treat players like men and they should act like men," Gretzky tells the Arizona Republic. "JR, all and all, has been pretty positive. But the reality is, last night he made a mistake. There will be ramifications for what happened."

Roenick met with Phoenix Coyotes general manager, Mike Barnett, and head coach Wayne Gretzky on Thursday morning and acknowledged he was wrong in leaving General Motors place on Tuesday night.

Gretzky has already decided Roenick will sit tonight against Columbus with Mike Ricci replacing him in the lineup. Asked when Roenick might be back in the lineup, Gretzky replied: "I'm not sure right now."

Roenick says he respects Gretzky's decision to bench him but feels he did nothing wrong by leaving the arena.

"I was at the game for part of the game and then I went for dinner," Roenick tells the newspaper. "I don't think there is anything wrong with going and having a nice dinner, having a beer and watching the hockey game. I don't know why everybody is trying to create a stir or create a controversy."

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