Quinn added, "We have a vision, and that vision is Canada with the gold."
Gretzky's last international game as a player came during Canada's loss to Finland in the bronze-medal game at the 1998 Nagano Olympics.
"He is the ideal Canadian for this position," Canadian Hockey Association president Bob Nicholson said.
Nicholson has assembled what he hopes will be Canada's own dream team, one that will return Canadian hockey to supremacy.
Edmonton Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe will be the assistant executive director.
Quinn's assistants will be Ottawa's Jacques Martin, Dallas' Ken Hitchcock, and Wayne Fleming, coach of the Canadian national team program.
Gretzky is now part of a group that expects to complete the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes by the end of the year. The Hall of Famer will be the head of hockey operations.
Nicholson said Gretzky will have the "final say" in his Olympic job, but the coaches will run the team.
"I'm thrilled that Pat will be the head coach," Gretzky said. "And, quite frankly, with him and his staff, Kevin and I and Bob will give them our recommendations. But, at the end of the day, it's [Quinn's] hockey team."
New York Rangers winger Theoren Fleury, a member of the 1998 Canadian team, called the choice of Gretzky "exciting for Canadian hockey."
"Over the years as a player he's gained a lot of experience and played on a lot of winning teams," Fleury said. "Obviously, he has a good feel for the players in the league that he will pick from.
"He'll surround himself with good people. He's going on the ownership side as well, and that will give him a good idea of the players who are available."
IN LAST NIGHT'S GAMES:
At East Rutherford, N.J., Tom Fitzgerald scored with 16.7 seconds remaining in the third period, spoiling the return of New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur, as the Nashville Predators pulled out a 4-3 victory over the Devils. Brodeur had suffered a groin injury during a game last Thursday. Cliff Ronning, David Legwand and Scott Walker also scored for Nashville, which ended a two-game winless streak.
At Toronto, Curtis Joseph made 27 saves for his third shutout of the season, and Gary Roberts had two goals and an assist against his former team as Toronto beat Carolina, 5-0. Joseph has 29 shutouts in 600 career games.
At Sunrise, Fla., Brian Savage scored one of Montreal's three special-teams goals in a 4-2 victory over Florida that snapped a five-game losing streak.
At St. Paul, Minn., Mike Vernon earned his first shutout this season and Valeri Bure scored the game's only goal as Calgary beat Minnesota, 1-0.
At Chicago, Marco Sturm scored his second goal of the game with 15.9 seconds left in overtime to lift San Jose past the Blackhawks, 3-2.
At Anaheim, Andrew Cassels scored three goals in the second period for his first career hat trick as Vancouver trounced the Mighty Ducks, 7-2.
At Phoenix, Brendan Shanahan scored a goal and had two assists as Detroit snapped the third-longest unbeaten streak in Phoenix history with a 4-2 victory. The Coyotes went undefeated in 12 consecutive games (7-0-5).