NEW YORK — If tennis star Bjorn Borg could retire when he was 26, then why can't hockey star Wayne Gretzky?
Gretzky, who has led the NHL in scoring for seven straight years, is considering retiring even though he is only 26. He has already played nine seasons, and the physical and mental demands of being the top player in the game have taken their toll.
"I feel my nine years have been a lot tougher than a lot of other guys' nine years," said Gretzky, who led the Edmonton Oilers to their third Stanley Cup title in the last four years.
"Now I know what Bjorn Borg felt like when he was 26. And I completely understand why he retired at 26."
Gretzky's comments were made Friday in New York, where he received the Seagram Sports Award as the NHL's player of the year.
Asked about retirement, Gretzky said: "It's something that's crossed my mind. The door is open. I haven't made any decision."
Earlier in the week, after receiving his eighth consecutive Most Valuable Player award in Toronto, Gretzky said: "I'm going to sit back and consider my options. There's nothing concrete right now. My parents are coming back from Europe next week, and I want to sit down with them and talk about it."
Gretzky, whose contract with the Oilers reportedly extends through 2001, said his main concern is being able to "walk away from the game" in good health.