Wayne Gretzky was on Buffalo’s WGR 550 on Thursday morning.
On if he’s caught much of Jack Eichel:
“I have. I’ve watched him closely. I think that… we’ve had a lot of great players come through the National Hockey League, as you guys know. Whenever somebody retires, we always say, ‘Well, who’s going to take over the mantle?’ Somehow somebody sort of steps in there and takes over that role and we don’t miss a beat.
“Now with Eichel and McDavid both in the league, I think this is the closest thing we’ve had to sort of a Larry Bird-Magic Johnson – two guys coming out with the same abilities and the same sort of PR.
“For Eichel, I give him a lot of credit. He stepped into a situation where a lot of people thought they were going to get McDavid. It didn’t happen that way because of the lottery, so he had a tremendous amount of pressure on him to fill those shoes. In Buffalo they’re good hockey fans and they know the game. And he had the confidence and the ability to step in there and be himself. I’m just really proud of the fact of how hard he plays and how exciting he is and I think he’s been great not only for Buffalo, but for the National Hockey League and that’s wonderful.”
On Eichel’s ability to dominate coming down the left wing boards:
“I think you’re right. One of his specialties is that he can play the game at a high level. You know, I don’t know how to describe it. Pelé maybe in soccer. Mark Messier kind of had that sort of ability to be able to skate as fast as anybody else on the ice, but still carry the puck like you don’t have a puck. And that’s one of the things that Eichel does. He has the ability to be able to keep his level of speed high and not lose any speed while controlling the puck. So you’re right. He’s fun to watch. He’s exciting. And listen, the fans in Southern Ontario and Niagara and Buffalo, they deserve this opportunity. They deserve a guy to be at the level he’s at.”
Source: WGR 550/ Transcript: Nichols
Related TSS Reading: LeBrun relays Gretzky story on Eichel-McDavid like Bird-Johnson for NHL