Lombardi invites Gretzky back to the Kings…but don't buy new 99 jerseys y

It started as a joke during a conversation with a Toronto radio station, though Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi should know that Toronto media take hockey very seriously.He had a big move to announce, he said on Toronto’s Radio 590, “one more major signing I think will be huge for putting us over the hurdle.” The hosts suspected a forward, and they were right, in a sense. Lombardi told him he envisioned bringing in someone to be the Kings’ minister of culture and identity….and that the person he had in mind for that role is Wayne Gretzky.

In a phone interview Tuesday afternoon Lombardi said he had spoken “very informally” to Gretzky to invite the NHL’s all-time scoring leader to re-establish a relationship with his former team. Gretzky last week resigned as coach and director of hockey operations of the Phoenix Coyotes. He was a minority owner of the club, which is embroiled in bankruptcy proceedings and is awaiting a judge’s decision on who will be allowed to purchase the franchise.

Lombardi has in mind an advisory role, not a coaching or ambassadorial job.

“This is the one guy that took this team almost to the end,” Lombardi said of Gretzky’s role in the Kings’ 1993 Stanley Cup finals appearance, the lone finals appearance in their history. “It always struck me that this guy is identified with a franchise in Phoenix, and he should be with the Kings.

“I told him, ‘Hey, you’re always welcome around here.’ To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/sports_blog/2009/09/kings-dean-lombardi-wayne-gretzky-nhl-phoenix-coyotes-hockey.html


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