Gretzky and Quinn to lead Canada in 2002 Olympics

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The Independent Online

Wayne Gretzky will lead Canada's men's hockey team at the 2002 Olympic Games, the Canadian Hockey Association confirmed today.

Wayne Gretzky will lead Canada's men's hockey team at the 2002 Olympic Games, the Canadian Hockey Association confirmed today.

"He is the ideal Canadian for this position," said association president Bob Nicholson.

Gretzky will serve as executive director of the Olympic team, with Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe as his assistant.

Toronto coach-GM Pat Quinn will be behind the bench as head coach. His associates are head coaches Jacques Martin of the Ottawa Senators and Ken Hitchcock of the Dallas Stars and Wayne Fleming, coach of the Canadian national team program.

"We all understand the pressure we're under," said Gretzky, a member of the 1998 Olympic team that lost a shootout to the Czech Republic and failed to win a medal

"We all understand the situation that we're in, but we feel confident about our team and we feel very good about our goal and that is to win a gold medal."

New York Rangers winger Theoren Fleury called the choice of Gretzky "exciting for Canadian hockey."

"Over the years as a player he's gained a lot of experience and played on a lot of winning teams," Fleury said on the NHL's weekly conference call. "Obviously, he has a good feel for the players in the league that he will pick from.

Like Gretzky, Fleury was a member of the ill-fated Canadian squad that finished just out of the medals at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan.

Gretzky's elevation to the Olympic team management continues his move away from the playing ranks since he retired. He remains involved in the NHL with a piece of the new ownership structure of the Phoenix Coyotes.

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