Treliving and Sutter on Walter Gretzky: Canada’s Hockey Guy [Video]

During a recent Sportsnet video where Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving and his new head coach Darryl Sutter were speaking with the media, each took some time to share some everyday stories and their fondest memories about Canada’s hockey dad, Walter Gretzky. Both shared what a sad day for hockey it was because of Walter’s passing.

Treliving’s Memories of Walter Gretzky

As now Flames’ general manager Brad Treliving remembered, to him Walter Gretzky was “Canada’s hockey guy.” He was so visible in everyday life. Treliving, who at the time of his first meetings with Walter was “just” a minor-league hockey player, noted that it would “always grab me every time I saw Walter just the passion he had.”

Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving
Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal)

Treliving recalled seeing Walter on the road in Phoenix, and he always had big smile on his face. He just had so much passion about watching the game of hockey.

To Treliving, one of the funniest stories he had was playing with when he was playing with Wayne’s brother Keith Gretzky in the minors – as Treliving notes, now years and years ago. Treliving and Keith played together in Erie, Pennsylvania, and Walter would drive to Erie to have coffee with Keith before each game.

Related: Remembering Walter Gretzky: Stories About ‘Canada’s Hockey Dad’

During one of those coffee get togethers, Treliving remembered sneaking a sip of Walter’s coffee and hoping to himself that maybe “I can get a little bit of that magic potion that he’s got.”  

Sutter’s Memories of Walter Gretzky

Darryl Sutter shared that, when he was still a player with the Chicago Blackhawks and when Wayne was a player with the Edmonton Oilers, his father met Wayne’s father. He recalls that he and Wayne were playing each other in the old colosseum in Chicago and he came out of the arena to see both his father and “Mr. Gretzky” talking with each other after the game.

Darryl Sutter
Darryl Sutter, now head coach of the Calgary Flames (Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

He remembered that what struck him was that here were these two dads whose sons played against each other analyzing the game as hockey coaches. Even though Wayne was an Oiler and he was a Blackhawk, when “we were walking out to the bus after the game here was my dad and Mr. Gretzky – Walter –  both standing there talking about the game.”

Sutter smiled remembered that he “wished I could take a picture.” To him, there was something about these two old coaches simply standing there talking about the game because, at that point, team loyalties didn’t matter. It was two dads, and two coaches, analyzing the good-old hockey game. To Sutter, it is “was the coolest thing.”

Walter Gretzky Was a Class Act

As I’ve read stories about Walter Gretzky since his passing, one of the things that seems most clear is that he was a class act. He treated everyone as if they were somebody. He went out of his way to engage people, to ask how they were doing, and to talk about the game he loved, which was hockey.

In the case of his son Wayne, who is arguably the best player in the history of the NHL, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. The way that Wayne treats and speaks about others is special.

Wayne Gretzky Mark Messier Joey Moss Edmonton Oilers
Former Oilers Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and longtime dressing room attendant Joey Moss watch as a banner is lowered during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game was the final game the Oilers played at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)

Walter Gretzky – and hockey dads/guys all over Canada just like him – are what make this great game so special. You will be missed.