TORONTO — Don Cherry was disappointed by Wayne Gretzky's decision to step down as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. Jarome Iginla hoped The Great One will return to hockey soon.
Gretzky announced Thursday that he was resigning as Coyotes coach and director of hockey operations as the struggle for control of the NHL club continues in bankruptcy court.
Cherry, the outspoken "Hockey Night In Canada" commentator, was puzzled about why Gretzky would quit at all.
"I don't understand it, but he should have been there on the ice with his players," Cherry said.
Iginla, meanwhile, said it's important for hockey's career scoring leader to be involved in the game.
"He's definitely great to have as part of our game, the best player and ambassador that we've had in the NHL," the Calgary captain said. "He's a very knowledgeable guy. Hopefully he gets back in the game."
Olli Jokinen, who played for Gretzky last season before being traded to Calgary, also said Gretzky's resignation would create a major void.
"It's always a tough loss, not just for Phoenix but I think it's a tough loss for the National Hockey League not to have a guy like him around," Jokinen said. "He's a nice guy. I think he's really good behind the bench. He had a young team last year over there. He's been doing a really good job with the young guys."
Jokinen expects Gretzky will end up coaching again one day.
"He's still a fairly young guy and coached only four years," he said. "I think we're going to see him back one day. He's learning too."