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If not Gretzky, who?

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  February 12, 2010 12:44 PM

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Unless Walter Gretzky is being sly for the sake of suspense or is doing his national duty to keep a secret, it appears his most famous son will not be the final torchbearer at the Opening Ceremony tonight at BC Place Stadium here in Vancouver.

Walter Gretzky, the father of hockey icon Wayne Gretzky, carried the torch this morning on Granville and Georgia Streets in downtown Vancouver to rousing cheers. Afterward, upon concluding his jaunt at the and GE Place and the Orpheum, the 72-year-old confirmed to CBC that his son was not the final choice.

Which leads to the question of the day: Who could be an even greater choice to represent and symbolize Canada than the Great One? Gretzky's qualifications could not be more obvious. He is the NHL's all-time leading scorer and held or shared 61 league records. While those who grew up watching Bobby Orr may dispute it, Gretzky is widely regarded as the greatest player in league history, in a sport that is as much a part of Canada's national fabric as baseball is in the United States. In a 2004 CBC poll, he was named one of the 10 greatest Canadians -- living or deceased.

Maybe coincidentally -- but maybe not -- Walter Gretzky took the torch this morning at 8:20 from Rolly Fox, the father of the late Terry Fox. Terry Fox became a national hero in 1980 with his Marathon of Hope, in which he ran across Canada on a prothetic leg to raise money for cancer research. He died of cancer at age 22 on June 28, 1981, but his legacy lives on in the Terry Fox Run, a national event every September, with all proceeds going to cancer research.

There has been much speculation that his mother, Betty Fox, could be the one chosen to the light the cauldron. It would seem appropriate that Wayne Gretzky would hand the torch to her, symbolically garnering one more assist.


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