Wayne Gretzky stepped down as the vice chairman of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday after the team was eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round.
The Oilers lost 4-3 to the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of the playoffs on Monday night. The Jets completed the sweep of Edmonton to move onto the next round of the playoffs. The team will play the winner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.
“With great appreciation, I wanted to let everyone know that I have decided to step away as Vice Chairman of the Edmonton Oilers effective today,” Gretzky said in a statement.
“The Oilers, their fans, and the city of Edmonton have meant the world to me and my family for over four decades – and that will never end. Given the pandemic and other life changes, I realize I will not be able to dedicate the time nor effort needed to support this world-class organization.
“I want to thank Daryl & Renee Katz, their family, and the entire team for all the support and friendship these last several years, and wish them nothing but success.”
Gretzky joined the Oilers’ front office in October 2016. In 2016-17, the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 when they appeared in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Oilers made the playoffs three more times in five seasons with Gretzky in the front office. But the team never got to a conference championship.
Gretzky, who started his NHL career with the Oilers, is considered to be the greatest player in the sport’s history. Since retiring in 1999 after four Stanley Cup titles and nine Hart Trophy wins, he has failed to lead a team to the Cup as a head coach or in the front office.