And then? "I don't know," says Gretzky. "I don't want to be a coach or a general manager. I'll be involved with horses. I'll benefit Bruce any way I can and help the league sell the game." McNall predicts that retirement at age 37 will not suit Gretzky if he is still productive. "[Edmonton general manager] Glen Sather says he thinks Wayne will play a lot longer than people think, and I agree with him," McNall says. Janet is certain that whenever her husband's retirement comes, the timing will be correct. "If it seems as if everything in his whole career has been laid out for him," she says, "it's because he knows what's the right thing at the right time. I can't imagine why the end of his career would be any different."
For all he has accomplished, Gretzky remains without pretense and remarkably immune to jealousy on the part of teammates and opponents. His image is absolutely true to his personality. Despite everything he has to be to so many people, he enjoys everything about being Wayne Gretzky. He just likes one part more than the others. "You know how a kid cries if his Little League game is rained out?" says Janet. "That's Wayne. At 4:30 on game day, he starts to sweat a little bit, and he can't wait to go. There is never a time, even last year when things weren't going well, that he dreaded going to a hockey game."
Someday, he will retire. And no matter how distant Gretzky is making that time appear, it's not too early to begin dreading it. Though the Kings sell out more nights than not and have surpassed McNall's financial projections, the fan in McNall, more than the owner, finds it disappointing that you can still buy a ticket on almost any game day. "We've done great," McNall says. "But I just think people will look back and realize that they had an opportunity to come and see maybe the greatest sports figure in history—and didn't do it."