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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gretzky Tells Kings to Send Help or Say Goodbye

COMBINED REPORTS


CHICAGO -- So, how easy will it be for the Los Angeles Kings to keep Wayne Gretzky?


Not very.


Gretzky's agent is scheduled to meet with the team's owners Tuesday to discuss his contract and the philosophy regarding the organization's future direction. Gretzky likely will have to get more than a verbal commitment that there will be eventual player movement for him to remain in Los Angeles. It'll take action, rather than mere words. He recently suggested a 50-goal scorer and an offensive-minded defenseman would keep him in a King uniform.


Long before Gretzky spoke about the need to acquire two additional players, the Kings' shortcomings were visible to nearly everyone else. But the Kings' prolonged free fall has made their trading position that much weaker.


Sunday brought no relief from a stressful week on and off the ice as the Kings lost, 5-2, to the Chicago Blackhawks in Chicago. Scoring for the Kings were John Druce and Tony Granato while Gretzky had one assist.


The Kings (16-19-10) fell three games below .500 for the first time this season and have won once on the road in their last 14 games, going 1-11-2. Afterward, Gretzky, whose future destination hangs in the balance, admitted the furor is starting to get to him.


"It's getting more difficult," he said, looking weary. "It's mounting more and more. It'll be a lot better for everybody after Tuesday. I think it's an unfair situation for everybody right now -- my teammates, myself.


"Hopefully after Tuesday it'll be rectified."


Should the Kings be unable to accommodate Gretzky, it is not as though the St. Louis Blues are the only option. The New York Rangers, despite a league-high $32 million payroll, are prepared to make an offer for him.


"If the Kings called and asked are we interested in Wayne, we certainly would talk to them," Ranger general manager Neil Smith said.


Both the Rangers and Blues could absorb the financial cost of adding Gretzky's contract -- an estimated $18 million over two years -- to the payroll.


Blues 3, Rangers 3. Mike Keenan came back to Madison Square Garden for the first time since leading the Rangers to the Stanley Cup, and New York came back from a 3-1 deficit to tie the St. Louis Blues and extend its home-ice unbeaten streak to 20 games.


Keenan was booed when he went to the bench prior to the first period."He's a rat. He's not welcome here," said Frank DeGrazio of Carmel, a town several hours north of New York City. "He should never have come back."


Sentiments expressed by fans throughout the Garden were identical.


And of course, there were statements that can't be repeated in polite company, which Ranger fans have never been accused of being.


The Rangers kept their unbeaten streak alive at 16-0-4 -- longest in the NHL this season and second highest in club history. ()


(For other results, see Scorecard.)