Monday, February 13, 2006

99 Questions, not many answers

As far as press conferences go, Wayne Gretzky’s appearance at a Hockey Canada event Monday left many of the media pack wondering why they were there.

The Press conference, Gretzky’s first as Team Canada pooh bah since the Tocchet situation popped up, was heavy on questions and light on answers. Heading into the event, it was suggested that questions regarding the gambling scandal brewing in the NHL, would not be addressed by Gretzky. He issued a brief comment about how he was not involved in the activity; he had no answers to provide and attempted to turn the gathering towards items regarding the actual hockey team heading for Torino.

It was a plea that found no traction, as reporter after reporter tried to find an angle of the betting scandal to approach. A Hockey Canada handler attempted a few times to redirect the questioning towards the Olympic team, but had little to no success. After six minutes of uncomfortable looking thrust and not so much parry, it was all over for the Canadian leg.

Gretzky and his team then headed for the airport and the long flight to Torino, where a new pack of media are already waiting. The days aren’t going to get any easier for him; the questions will continued to be asked. The fellow who says that the spotlight should be on the athletes and their quest for gold, will quickly find that that while that may be true, the real story is going to be how he handles the international media glare to come.

Interestingly enough, the focus on Gretzky seems to be building an Us against the World mentality in the Canadian camp, to a player they are all supportive of his presence in Torino and suggest they’ll be playing as much for him, as for the country when they take to the ice in the first game.

Gretzky is going to need all that good will and more as he arrives in Italy, the International media sense a story in the making. If he felt uncomfortable in Toronto on Monday, one wonders what Wednesday in Torino may bring.

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