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Rick Tocchet Gambling Scandal

  • I was hesitant to write about this since it’s not related to the Montreal Canadiens (at least not yet) and it casts a fairly negative shadow on the game. Not to mention it’s being covered by every possible media outlet and hockey blogger.

    That being said it is obviously important to hockey and I am curious to hear everyone’s opinions.

    Rick Tocchet being involved in an illegal gambling ring for some reason doesn’t surprise me. I don’t know why. Looking at him, listening to his reaction while being interviewed – it just seems totally plausible. What Rick Tocchet does or doesn’t do, who cares? If he’s a criminal I don’t think it’s going to affect the day to day lives of people or most hockey fans. At least not for very long. Criminals go to jail evereyday. Rick Tocchet is forgettable.

    The troubling thing for me in this whole fiasco is the alleged involvement of Wayne Gretzky’s wife Janet Jones, and what it brings to him and the game of hockey. Rick Tocchet for all intents and purposes is a loser, a decent hockey player in his time and now an NHL level coach. Big deal, there’s tons of people who fit into that category. There’s only one Wayne Gretzky.

    If this solely involved Rick Tocchet, it would be in the news for a while and not long after forgotten. If you attack the integrity of Wayne Gretzky you’re attacking the game of hockey itself. The details are uncertain and speculation is growing about if Wayne is involved and how deeply.

    The latest news indicates Gretzky at least knew of the operation as there are apparent phone taps of him discussing it with Tocchet. I don’t think Gretzky would be involved in any of this as far as gambling and participating in it. My hunch is Gretzky found out through his wife and approached Tocchet about it.

    I highly doubt Wayne Gretzky used his wife to place illegal gambling wagers for him. Janet Jones’ own involvement will surface in the coming weeks and my belief is it will clear Gretzky. The fact she would be so stupid to involve the Gretzky name in illegal sports betting is a repulsive offense.

    At this point everything is total speculation and hearsay. I am interested in your own opinions but won’t post more about this until the facts are clear.

  1. Could someone please clarify to me why this is such a big deal. Why is this ring soooo illegal? People place bets all the time. Who cares if it was organized or not (or is that even the issue? i don’t know)? They didn’t place any NHL bets so there wasn’t any conflict of interest. It is not like what’s his name from MLB that was banned from the hall of fame for betting on games that he took part of.

    Please let me know what I’m missing here. I don’t have TV at school so all I’ve heard is what I’ve read online and I don’t know if I’m getting the whole story. To me this just seems to be getting blown out of proportion.

  2. Illegal gambling has a lot to do with tax evasion and money laundering which are serious crimes in the US.

    Money laundering is the most serious charge against Tocchet and can carry a 7 year prison term.

  3. #3 SaskHab says:
    February 9, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    Frankly i think this entire affair is getting the attention it is merely due to the fact that Gretzky is involved. To what degree is yet to be determined, but if it is only to the extent that he was aware of it then this is a dead issue. There is no onus on him to report Tocchet or anyone else he may know to be involved. i don’t think it’s a crime to mind your own business.
    I agree with Habs Blog in his proclamation that it isn’t surprising Tocchet would be associated with this type of endeavor. He has the appearance of a back-alley tough and, in general, strikes me as the kind of guy that would have no problems embarking on sinister enterprises.
    I find it sad that this story will probably garner more attention than the entire hockey season, including the Stanley Cup playoffs but, alas, that is what our precious press has reverted to: reports on scandals and misdeeds.

  4. #4 Gumper says:
    February 9, 2006 at 4:07 pm

    Habs Blog is right… and if you add wire fraud, it’s an even bigger deal. I tend to agree with fan3’s point that it’s blown out of proportion,.. but only to the extent that the media today is such a huge monster that consumes any tasty controversial morsel and milks it to the detrement of the facts. I know everyone wants to get the story and info, but the media know all too well that most people love to watch a train wreck… and the media microscope seems to be getting worse. Soon we’ll know how many zits Britney’s kid is forecast to have on his face when he becomes a teenager!

    I’ll be quick here:
    I think Gretz knew Janet placed bets (come on folks, a half Mill in a few months?). If he didn’t, she took him as a fool… and it’s my estimate, he’s nobody’s fool. He just shut the possible consequences that were no doubt in his mind there, but peripheral,.. out.

    This is also speculation:
    The reason Tocchet may have been nabbed is because of the recent US government wire tapping liberties aimed at nixing terrorist plots. I know, it’s only my opinion, but i’m sure it’s easier for local authorities to get the go-ahead for a wire tap these days than it was only a few years ago… even if it’s for a comparitively harmless gambling ring like this.
    All in all, i think the whole situation is getting way more attention than it merits and the people involved (including Gretzky) should’ve known this could happen. You play with fire…

  5. #5 Gumper says:
    February 9, 2006 at 4:26 pm

    My last post was meant to go before SaskHab’s as I didn’t see his until I posted. But i have to comment on the subject of branding people by appearance.

    “”” He has the appearance of a back-alley tough and, in general, strikes me as the kind of guy that would have no problems embarking on sinister enterprises “””

    What a ludicrous statement. No offense but unless you know this guy personally, you can’t make this judgement based on appearance only. I know it can be human nature to do this, but it’s an exercise in fallacy. More to the point, if you trust Gretzky’s judgement, he himself stated that Tocchet is a decent guy. They’ve been friends for years. This whole affair is simply a case of people using bad judgement.

  6. #6 USHabsFan says:
    February 9, 2006 at 6:11 pm

    Longtime lurker, a little perspective from down south…

    1. This is supposedly a state investigation, means there’s a sealed warrant somewhere in NJ signed by a state judge. The feds, aka the NSA, probably has nothing to do with it, although the FBI may since the investigation crosses state lines. Since it’s the mafia, it’s probably NJ, ATF, and the FBI. We’ll see, but even if so, there’s no way anyone publicly admits NSA involvement down here either way.

    2. I dont think WG was involved either. Probably knew about it.

    3. Gambling in sports is a big deal if a player gets in over his head, and an associate of the man taking the bets asks for a favor (duck a game, secret injury reports for handicapping, etc.). Thing is, this is tough to do in hockey unless the goaltender is the one in over his head – that’s the position that really has the only yay or nay outcome on the game.

    This kind of thing is much worse in basketball, where a single player can change a game by purposefully clanging foul line shots off the rim or heaving up bad threes – for example, the infamous Boston College point shaving scandal in 79 involving Rick Kuhn and Henry Hill (Ray Liotta’s character in Goodfellas).

    4. I don’t live in Canada, but the effects down here will be minimal. The anti-gambling puritan element generally aren’t hockey fans and won’t care (if this happened in the NFL – wow). Gretzky is the face of the game, though, especially in Canada.

    Regardless, some will rush to judgment, some won’t. Let’s see how it plays out.

    And your Olympic team is headed for gold, btw. What a roster! It will be a real pleasure to watch your team on the big ice.

  7. Thanks for the US perspective.

  8. #8 MIke van Eykeren says:
    February 10, 2006 at 1:44 pm

    I thik you are absoluty corect, I belive that Wayne knew she was gambling a bit. but not to that extent. when things got hot and the feds came down, she spilled to Wayne and he made a few calls to see what he could do to protect his wife and his name. unfortunatly one or so of the calls was bugged. Think about it she has all the time and money in the world to do as she pleases, its not like she is making alot of movies, so she has time on her hands and unfortunatly she got tied up in gambling. I would have liked to be a fly on the wall at the Gretzky house hold when she told him what was up. If that is how it went down. but we all know Wayne is not a good actor and even when he speaks he is genuine

  9. C’mon. Wayne was great on Saturday Night Live. Waikiki Hockey.

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