Wayne Gretzky is set to begin his new job for the upcoming 2021-22 season. In May Gretzky announced that he was stepping down as vice chairman of the Edmonton Oilers to become lead analyst on Turner’s studio show after agreeing to a contract that will pay him in the neighborhood of $3 million per season, according to sources.
The opportunity may not have come together without some encouragement from an NBA legend, popular TNT commentator and longtime friend of The Great One.
“Charles Barkley is a good friend and he called me every single day and said, ‘This will be fun for you,’ and ultimately I decided OK this this something I gotta try and I’m really looking forward to it,” Gretzky told Hockey Central during a Friday appearance on Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
Gretzky explained to Sportsnet that shortly after his father, Walter Gretzky, died in March he and his wife, Janet, reassessed their living situation now that each of their five children are college aged or older.
They decided to move from California to Missouri to be closer to Janet’s soon-to-be 100-year-old mother and other members of their family.
“We’re sort of empty nesters and we’ve kind of always had a kinship with St. Louis (where Gretzky briefly played in 1996),” Gretzky said. “I’ve always loved the city and the people. We’ve had a house there that my mother-in-law lives in, so we decided to move further east. … and then when TNT came along, I just sort of thought, ‘People ask me about hockey all the time, I love hockey, I love the game, I love being part of the game, everything I have in my life is because of the game, the players of today are great athletes and they’re wonderful people,’ and I just thought this was a great opportunity where I can just enjoy the game itself.”
Three of the seven Stanley Cup Final series that will take place over the duration of the contract will be broadcasted by Turner Sports. The other four will be covered by ESPN.
Turner Sports will get half of the Stanley Cup Playoff games, the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, and a regular-season schedule each year of the agreement.
By Jon Sorensen