Wayne Gretzky: the wrong man

Colby Cosh on who should have lit the flame

Sorry, but the more I think about this the more exasperated I get. Did we have a better choice for lighting the Olympic flame than Wayne Gretzky? Well, what if there was a guy who:

a) had a record of winning amateur AND professional championships in hockey that puts Gretzky’s to shame;

b) wore Canadian colours in the Olympics, twice, at a huge, precisely quantifiable personal cost, for no better reason than that he believed in what were then regarded as “Olympic ideals”;

c) transferred those ideals to his children so convincingly that two of them are competing at these games;

and d) obtained a medical degree before having a successful sports career at the highest professional level—an accomplishment that those of us who witnessed the often-thorny details must still be tempted to describe as impossible?

The horrible truth is, there can’t possibly be any argument about this, can there? Without any question, we just plain got it wrong—even from the mercenary standpoint of TV storytelling. And to what end did we coax a bored Gretzky into the back of that ridiculous truck? Does it bother us to imagine him going to bed at night having let one honour elude him? Who do you really want your children to be like—Gretzky, or Dr. Gregg? Who do we have more, ourselves, to learn from? Who’s the superior patriot? Hell, having seen Randy Gregg skate, I’m not even sure of the answer to “Which of the two extracted the most from his innate talent?”