Wayne Gretzky Is Still Passionate About Hockey, His Blackberry and Newspapers

The Great One reflects on NHL history


Name Wayne Gretzky

Age 55

Claim to Fame Widely believed to be the greatest hockey player of all time

Base Los Angeles

Twitter @OfficialGretzky

Adweek: What's the first information you consume in the morning?

Wayne Gretzky: Well, we get up early at our house. We're sort of a.m. people, 5 a.m. 5:30 a.m. We put the coffee on and then turn the TV on and watch the news. Or, if the Oilers played the night before, usually I watch a little bit of the NHL Network just to watch the highlights and everything from the night before. And then [I do] the same thing I've done my whole life—open the newspaper and read the L.A. Times and USA Today.

Do you use social media?

Not a whole lot. I'm still old-school. I still use a Blackberry. I always tease my older kid that, you know, this world has changed, but I still like getting up in the morning wherever I am and having a cup of coffee and reading the paper. They always tell me that they've read all the news from the night before on the internet. And so I'm sort of old-school that way. I still get my information from TV, radio and the newspaper.

You mentioned the NHL network. Where else do you turn for sports news?

Usually ESPN, you know? They cover all sports, and we're a sports family, so obviously we follow [son-in-law and pro golfer Dustin Johnson] quite a bit. So if we're not watching ESPN, we're watching the Golf Channel or the NHL Network. But ESPN does an extensive job of covering the NHL with [commentator] Barry Melrose—so they're pretty informative.

So you've done it all in hockey, and you've seen everything. Do you still often watch live hockey?

Oh, I love it. I think the league—starting at the grass-roots level with youth hockey in the United States, youth hockey in Canada—has gotten much better. I believe over the last 20 to 25 years—probably beginning with the '80 Olympic team winning the gold medal—United States hockey has been going in a strong direction with so many good athletes. The Canadian players today … there's so much more depth in Canada you would think that maybe in some ways other countries might catch us or compete at a different level against us. But that hasn't been the case over the last few Olympic games, with two gold medals and, of course, the World Cup in September.

You mentioned how hockey has evolved in the United States over the last three decades. What does the NHL have to do to get better TV ratings?

Well, you know, I say this and I mean this with a great deal of respect because I'm obviously biased towards the game of hockey. But for whatever reason, our game is more suited to watch live. I know so many people in California that have said, "I just went to my first hockey game, and I can't believe how much fun it was and how good it was and how great the athletes are." And it's tough for us to show some of those same aspects on TV. If you understand the game, it's easier to watch on TV. We've come a long way, and the NHL has done everything it possibly can do to make the game more fan-friendly. Having more speed in the game, having more offense in the game, more scoring chances in the game. And yet there's still a physical component that goes with being an NHL player. You have to be physically tough and mentally strong.