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Wayne Gretzky resigns as Phoenix Coyotes coach

Local Phoenix reporter Brahm Resnik has announced via Twitter that Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky is resigning today.

A statement on Gretzky.com reads in part:

“This was a difficult decision that I’ve thought long and hard about,” said Gretzky. “We all hoped there would be a resolution earlier this month to the Coyotes ownership situation, but the decision is taking longer than expected.  Since both remaining bidders have made it clear that I don’t fit into their future plans, I approached General Manger Don Maloney and suggested he begin looking for someone to replace me as coach.  Don has worked hard and explored many options.  I think he has made an excellent choice, and so now it’s time for me to step aside.

A permanent replacement might be announced soon (update: Coyotes to hold press conference this afternoon!), while assistant Ulf Samuelsson has been leading the team in recent days. TSN's Bob McKenzie speculates that "just rumors at this point but Dave Tippet's name is mentioned prominently as the next Phx coach."

Update: TSN is now reporting that indeed, Dave Tippet will be announced as the new Coyotes coach this afternoon.

While his coaching career was eagerly anticipated given his scintillating work on the ice over 20 NHL seasons, Gretzky's results in Phoenix were lackluster. Just weeks into his first season, Scott Burnside gushed over his ability to keep the Yotes tottering around .500, but as it turns out, that may have been the highlight of his coaching run.

During this summer's ongoing bankruptcy and franchise sale, Gretzky's outsize contract (his multi-million dollar salary dwarfs that of other NHL coaches) became a part of the drama. It was portrayed as just another example of Jerry Moyes' mismanagement of the team, and what remains to be seen is how his contract will be impacted by the bankruptcy proceeding. Earlier this week, James Mirtle reviewed the awkward situation Gretzky was caught up in over at From the Rink.

A good way to follow the developments on this front is with the SB Nation story stream; it updates itself in real-time as news breaks.