at the Mike Komisarek contract.
Initial reports indicated that Gretzky had been approached by one or more potential buyers. Gretzky briefly seemed to confirm that, before later backtracking and denying any involvement in a deal. Confusion reigned, with various insiders trying to interpret Gretzky's words to figure out what, if anything, was really going on. And once all the smoke cleared, it seemed like the whole thing may have been one big false alarm.
But why let reality spoil the fun? After all, the mere rumour of Gretzky's involvement was enough to get hockey fans thinking: What if The Great One were to invest in the Maple Leafs? What kind of impact would he have on one of the league's most storied franchises?
The best guess is that Gretzky's arrival in Toronto would bring plenty of changes:
- Every Leaf fan you know would start bringing up the Gretzky/Gilmour high-sticking incident 10 times a day, instead of eight times a day like they have been for the past 18 years.
- Any potential NHL owner who has ever publicly argued in favour of placing a team in Hamilton would immediately start getting ominous phone calls from Dave Semenko inviting them to go for a canoe ride.
- Gretzky would use his show business connections to land Phil Kessel a starring spot on Saturday Night Live, just to ensure that somebody finally breaks his record for "most awkward SNL host of all-time".
- Edmonton Oilers fans would feel oddly conflicted when Maple Leafs ownership signs Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle as free agents in five years.
- As a long-time promoter of the sport who realizes how important it is for key members of an organization to be available to the media, Gretzky would see if he could do anything about finally getting Brian Burke to come out of his shell.
- "Wear your old jersey to work day" gets kind of awkward whenever Rick Dudley and Wilf Paiement show up.
- It's always important that new ownership shows fans that they're serious about winning by signing a can't-miss player to a huge contract, so Raghib Ismail should probably be expecting a phone call.
- Effective immediately, the owner's office is moved from a lavish corner suite in the Air Canada Centre to directly behind the opponent's net.
- Any players complaining to ownership that the current coach is the worst they've ever seen would have to immediately add, "uh, present company excluded of course".
- Gretzky investing in the Leafs would result in the most popular player in hockey history owning the most popular team, meaning the next logical move would be Claude Lemieux and Ulf Samuelsson buying the Canucks.
- For reasons nobody seems to understand, the Leafs immediately stop using their best players in the shootout.
- The Leafs would stop chasing quick fixes through free agency and trades, and finally get to work on building a dynasty the old-fashioned way: by purchasing the personal services contracts of teenagers from faltering teams in soon-to-be-defunct leagues.
- Hockey fans in Toronto would no doubt be eager to embrace a legendary Hall of Famer with multiple Stanley Cup rings and would give him plenty of time to execute on his plan before criticizing him, mutters Ken Dryden bitterly.
- After several small-market teams face a sudden financial crisis when the Leafs begin withholding their revenue sharing payments, Gretzky tells Gary Bettman, "Gosh, I guess it would be really annoying if someone didn't pay you the money they owed you."
- Maybe, just maybe, the Toronto Maple Leafs can finally start getting some media coverage.