Tuesday, February 07, 2006

My Oh My NHL

Janet JonesYou have to wonder how much money is enough. When you’re already on top of the world, living the life of a professional athlete, making millions of dollars a year, what would compel you to be so greedy that you’d start your own gambling ring? Former NHL’er and current Phoenix Coyotoes bench coach Rick Tocchet will have his chance to explain all of that to New Jersey state law enforcement officials on Wednesday.

Tocchet was implicated as the financier of a gambling ring that has processed more than $1.7 million across 1000+ wagers. Reports indicate that 6 to 12 current NHL players have been involved in wagering, along with Janet Jones, the wife of Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky. The betting focused mostly on football and basketball, but NHL games were not included in any of the wagers.

An 8-month sting, dubbed “Operation Slapshot” also implicates an NHL owner and another coach, but they have remained nameless to this point. KYW-TV and WCAU-TV of Philadelphia both reported that Los Angeles Kings forward Jeremy Roenick is one of the players believed to have placed bets through the ring.

"Everyone in the world is innocent until proven guilty," Gretzky said. "He's a great guy and a good friend. He's just going through a tough time right now, obviously, and we've got to let it run its course. It's a situation that's obviously a concern for the organization at this point."

Asked about his wife's involvement, Gretzky strained under the camera lights to squeeze out a retort, "Oh really? I don't know. You'd have to ask her that," he said, followed by a contrived laugh.

Never thought we’d see the day when the Great One looked like a cornered sheep.

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