It is not everyday I wake up and go to the hotel restaurant for breakfast and literally bump into Wayne Gretzky, arguable the greatest hockey player of all time.

Well that is what happened to me this past Tuesday morning. I haveto tell you that it is a surreal experience. Gretzky is nothing butprofessional and classy when dealing with people. I watched him fromafar at the Samsung Executive Channel Conference golf day and he smiles, listens, talks to people, shares a laugh and is just enjoyable to be around.

Now Samsung has partnered with athletes in the past such as football greats Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins and Boomer Esiason of the Cincinnati Bengals. The only difference between Marino/Esiason and the Great One are this:

A. Gretzky has won four Stanley Cup Championships and three CanadaCups, the defacto world hockey championships. Meanwhile, Marino andEsiason lost each time they reached the Super Bowl to the great Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers.

B. Gretzky is an iconic figure. He is generally considered to be the best hockey player of all time.

Marino would make anyone’s top ten list of the best quarterbacks ofall time. But he is not the best ever – that would be Joe Montana. Asfor Esiason…well he might make the top 100 list.

C. Gretzky is recognized virtually all over the world. Sure maybenot Africa or South America where they do not play hockey, but in manyparts of Europe and in Russia Gretzky is a star. Marino and Esiasoncould walk the streets of Europe and Russia without any fanfare.

D. Hockey, the sport Gretzky represents, is a global game except fora few pockets where ice typically melts year round. But you can’t saythe same thing for American Football, which is played and enjoyed inCanada and the U.S. The NFL’s attempt at a European League fizzled last year after a decade of losing money.

One quick hit before. Chris Stoate of Laser Networks willbe taking a much deserved year off to basically enjoy life in theFrench Alps. Stoate at Laser Networks I think revolutionized managedprint services. I wish him all the best and look forward to hearingmany stories when he returns in 2010.


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