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January 18, 1998

Wayne Gretzky


Q. Looked like you had a little bit of the old magic going with Mark in the third period. Can you talk about the two shifts, the goal, stopping the shorthanded?

WAYNE GRETZKY: We had fun playing together again. Wherever you play a player as talented as Mark and Eric, kind of gives you a little boost. You know, everybody kept asking me who we were going to play with. I had no idea. I was thankful that Jacques played me with Eric and Mark when I saw them on the board, I got pretty excited. You know, I felt pretty good out there. Had some good chances. Mark scored a beautiful goal to make it 8-5, which turned out to be the winning goal. If it wasn't for that one kid, Mess might have had the car.

Q. Could you talk about how the game has changed since the '80s when you played in Edmonton?

WAYNE GRETZKY: Well, the whole game has changed in a lot of ways. There's obviously a lot more emphasis on defense. That's why there's so many more low-scoring games. You know, there's more travel now. There's more teams and you play more back-to-back games. But that's hockey. Bottom line is, you still have the same passion to win, still have the same passion these guys did 20 years ago to score. From that point of view, it's no different.

Q. Wayne, how do you feel about the format? Would you like it to continue?

WAYNE GRETZKY: I liked it. You know, obviously we liked it a little more than they did. We won. It was good, you know. It was a nice change. Although there was a lot of goals, I didn't think it was a game where there was a lot of 3-on-0s, that sort of thing. I thought it was a little bit more intense. I thought after they made it three nothing, we really kind of give us a wake-up call and got going. Ended up turning out to be a pretty exciting game. As I said, Selanne put on a show. He was fun to watch, even from where we were all sitting.

Q. Wayne, obviously in a game like this, nobody wants to get hurt. Nobody wants to get embarrassed either. How concerned were you when you were down 3 nothing that early?

WAYNE GRETZKY: Well, I think there was enough guys on the bench. Obviously we started to get a little concerned. But '87 Canada Cup we were down against a pretty good team 3 nothing and we stormed back to win 6-5. I think there were a lot of guys in the benches that said, "Okay, we have to buckle up." We knew the fourth goal was a big goal, LeClair scored a goal to make it 3-1. That seemed to kind of give us some momentum. Yeah, we didn't want to be embarrassed, no question.

Q. Wayne, Mark's 37th birthday. Yours is coming up. Do you take extra inspiration or do you take that as a challenge in a game with so many younger stars?

WAYNE GRETZKY: I think we do. I think there's always so much talk about age. There's always people saying, "Well, you guys are 37. Maybe you shouldn't play because you're old. Maybe you should rest more because you're old." You know, we love to play. We really enjoy the game itself. As you said, you saw the eighth goal when Mark scored, how excited he was, how excited we were on the ice. The penalty, kept going at them, get another goal, maybe give him the chance to win the car. We just love to play. That's the bottom line. I'm not trying to stand up here and sell the game of hockey. But, you know, for both of us, everything we have in our life we owe to the National Hockey League. To come to a game like this, it's just fun for us. We enjoy it. We don't complain about it, we don't bit, we just come to enjoy it. You don't get these many opportunities, you don't get these many chances. Today, it was nice, it was his birthday, he got the winning school. Told him to check his birth certificate after he scored, maybe he's only 27 (laughter).

Q. I don't know if you're aware, you're on top in yet another category, you've broken the tie with Mario Lemieux for most points in an All-Star Game history.

WAYNE GRETZKY: I knew it when they wouldn't give me the puck, because there's something in the puck (laughter). 20,000 puck, so fortunately the second one we got, we were able to get one. Yeah, I knew. Actually Neil Smith left me a message last night, you need one point to break the record, two points to keep it going. I knew. Funny thing is everybody kind of reminds me, but I kind of follow everything pretty closely. I'm a really big fan myself as far as following the game, so I knew.

Q. Wayne, now that you've had a chance to play with some of the guys you'll be playing with in Nagano, how good do you feel about team Canada?

WAYNE GRETZKY: Well, we're all excited about it. Friday we start to meet around four o'clock, we're together till 12:30 at night. Spent a good seven or eight hours with each other, all the Canadian players. Everyone's excited from as far as meeting and getting on the charter to go, staying together in the Olympic Village. One of the things that's been really interesting, everyone's -- a lot of talk about the village and accommodations, but the players themselves haven't even bothered with it. It's not really a concern to us. Our concern is to just get there and get our first practices together and kind of get going. So we're excited about it. We know there's a lot of pressure on us, but that's part of what makes it really fun. We're really looking forward to it.

Q. How significant a milestone do you think this is for the NHL going over to the Olympics?

WAYNE GRETZKY: I think it's a really positive influence to the game as far as letting our players go to the Olympics. I don't really buy into this people are going to be upset with the National Hockey League that we're shutting down for two weeks. I really don't accept that. I think there's too many people in Canada that really want to see the best Canadian players there. I really believe that the 1980 U.S. team that was successful, the American people are going to rally and watch the American team. So I really think this is going to turn out to be just nothing but positive for the National Hockey League and for the sport of hockey. I think that it's just going to be great hockey, something we'll never forget.

End of FastScripts....

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