Wayne Gretzky's 21-year playing career is over. His first opportunity as an owner is about to begin.
Gretzky, who has no plans to follow Mario Lemieux's lead and lace up the skates again, and partner Steve Ellman were expected to close on the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes today and take control of the team.
The purchase has been in the works for 13 months, and the price could reach $91 million, with adjustments. Gretzky's group originally agreed to buy the team from Richard Burke for $87 million.
Gretzky will be the Coyotes' director of hockey operations, with control over every aspect of the team's play and training.
The new owners will have four weeks to decide whether to trade Keith Tkachuk or Jeremy Roenick, the scoring leaders whose combined salaries make up one-third of the team's $39 million payroll.
Hours before the sale, Joe Juneau and Travis Green scored 27 seconds apart midway through the second period as the Coyotes beat the Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-2. Jeremy Roenick also scored and moved within two goals of becoming the third U.S. born player to score 400 times. The others are Joe Mullen (502) and Pat LaFontaine (468).
In addition, Gretzky likely will have to choose between All-Star goalie Sean Burke and free agent Nikolai Khabibulin, the team's franchise goalie until he began a 1 1/2 -year holdout rather than accept $3 million a year from the Coyotes.
Roy touched by tribute
MONTREAL -- Patrick Roy felt the full range of emotions.
The Colorado Avalanche goalie was honored by his former team, the Montreal Canadiens, in a pregame ceremony. Then he led the Avs to a 3-2 overtime victory on Joe Sakic's 33rd goal.
Hours before the festivities, Roy was involved in a shouting match with a Montreal columnist.
Hockey's winningest goalie made 16 saves in the victory, then admitted he was touched by the Canadiens' tribute to him.
"It was a great moment -- I was really touched by that, and I really appreciate it," Roy said after former teammates Benoit Brunet, Patrice Brisebois and Guy Carbonneau presented him with a painting by Quebec artist Andre Lapensee. The ceremony was seen as a reconciliation of Roy's bitter departure from the team in December 1995.
"I think it shows that part of the past is behind."
Trevor Linden was credited with his 300th career goal when Colorado's Raymond Bourque inadvertently put the puck past Roy midway through the third period.
"Of the 300, that one was probably the ugliest," Linden said.
Around the rinks
Brett Hull scored a power-play goal in the first period and Mike Modano added a goal and an assist as the Stars beat the Predators, 2-1. . . . Marc Savard scored his second goal of the game on the power play, 5:18 into the third period, as the Flames squandered a two-goal lead before pulling out a 4-4 tie with the streaking Capitals.