The hockey legend was interviewed by George Stroumboulopoulos on Saturday night during the second intermission of Hockey Night in Canada. When asked if he would ever return to the NHL in an executive capacity, Gretzky admitted he'd spoken with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment president and CEO Tim Leiweke last spring about becoming president of the hockey team.
"I can finally admit that we chatted," said Gretzky. "It just wasn't the right thing for them and for me. Tim Leiweke is a wonderful man and the organization is a good organization. And listen, I grew up a huge Toronto Maple Leafs fan. At one point I almost signed here in 1996, but you know, sometimes things just happen for a reason and it just didn't work out.
Gretzky added that fellow Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan, who accepted the position of Maple Leafs president and alternate governor on April 11, was a strong choice for Toronto.
"Brendan Shanahan is a wonderful man and he's a good person and I think he's going to do a wonderful job," said Gretzky.
Earlier in the conversation with Stroumboulopoulos, Gretzky mentioned that he still yearned to be directly involved with hockey.
"I got a little envious today, I saw the (New York) Rangers around the hotel and I thought, 'gosh, I wish I was going over to the arena at 3:30 to get ready to play a game,'" said Gretzky. "But you know what? Life goes on. And listen, everything I have in my life is because of hockey and I couldn't be any happier."