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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tocchet to Return in February

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced earlier today a press conference in New York City that Rick Tocchet will be reinstated into the league effective February 7, 2008. The date will mark two years since Tocchet first announced that he was taking a leave of absence from his assistant coach position for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Bettman realizes that many out there believe that Tocchet should never be permitted to be part of league activities again. However he believes that those people need to take a step back and look at the entire picture instead of focusing on the negatives of Tocchet’s actions:

“There are those who suggest that Mr. Tocchet should be prohibited from resuming active status in the league for an extremely long and additional period of time, perhaps forever,” said Bettman. “In my view, those who would make such a suggestion are not familiar with all the facts and are still focused on the original headlines.”

Coyotes Head Coach and Part-Owner Wayne Gretzky formally announced through a press release that the team will allow Tocchet to resume his position as assistant coach:

“We respect the Commissioner’s decision and are relieved that this situation is behind us,” stated Gretzky. “We will welcome Rick Tocchet back on Feb. 7, 2008.”

Personally, I’m glad to hear that Tocchet will be back after all. He was found to never have placed any bets at all on hockey and as long as that holds up, his return is more than fine with me.


Posted by John Chandler on Nov 01, 2007 at 09:39 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL
1 CommentPermalink

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Report: Tocchet to Meet With Bettman

TSN is reporting that Rick Tocchet was set to meet with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman earlier today in New York City according to their sources.

Tocchet apparently made the trip with Phoenix Coyotes GM Don Maloney.

So what would the purpose of the meeting be? Well to let Tocchet know if he’s going to be able to continue coaching of course:

The league had been waiting for its own independent report on Tocchet’s activities before being able to make a final decision on whether Tocchet is free to resume his coaching activities or is subject to supplementary league discipline. That report is now in the hands of the league.

If Tocchet did indeed meet with Bettman this afternoon, I’m sure we’ll know a lot more about his future by tomorrow morning.

Posted by John Chandler on Oct 30, 2007 at 08:03 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ulmer Receives Probation

James Ulmer received two years probation from a Mount Holly State Superior Court judge on Friday morning, becoming the last defendant in the Operation Slapshot case to be sentenced:

James Ulmer, the final defendant in the gambling ring run by former Philadelphia Flyer Rick Tocchet and a former New Jersey State Police trooper, was sentenced in Superior Court this morning to two years’ probation. That was the same sentence given last week to Tocchet, who pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy and gambling charges.

While Tocchet and Harney were said to be the leaders of the ring, Ulmer only admitted to helping bring in bets. Ulmer reportedly allowed those placing bets the opportunity to deposit the money directly into his bank account.

Posted by John Chandler on Aug 26, 2007 at 10:20 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tocchet’s Hockey Fate Still Undetermined

While Rick Tocchet’s legal outcome has been determined (as long as Tocchet continues to stay on the right side of the law), his hockey future is still up in the air.

Jerry Brown of the East Valley Tribune thinks Tocchet will be suspended from the NHL one more season before being allowed to coach again.

Hartley Henderson of breaks out the legalese before suggesting Gary Bettman will ban Tocchet from the NHL for good.  Henderson rightfully points out that the NHL has been quite forgiving in the past, and could continue that trend, especially with Wayne Gretzky wanting Tocchet to return.

Scott Burnside of doesn’t make a prediction, but summarizes some of the public opinions being made before getting into what the league might do with Mark Bell during this time of intense public scrutiny of athletes.

Posted by David M Singer on Aug 23, 2007 at 04:01 AM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tocchet Gets Probation, Jail Time Unlikely

It seems that the Operation Slapshot saga is coming to an end…

Rick Tocchet was sentenced to two years probation earlier this morning in a New Jersey courtroom:

Former National Hockey League player and Phoenix Coyotes associate coach Rick Tocchet received his sentence on Friday morning, as he was convicted on third-degree conspiracy to promote gambling and third-degree promoting gambling.

Tocchet, who appeared in Superior Court on Friday morning in New Jersey as a first-time offender, received two years probation concurrently on each count and will not likely serve jail time.

Tocchet technically could have received up to five years in prison. However first-time offenders who plead guilty to third-degree crimes usually do not receive any jail time at all. New Jersey deputy attorney general Mark Eliades reaffirmed the notion during an interview outside of the courthouse after the sentencing.

Tocchet expressed his sorrow moments before his sentence was handed out:

“I’m sorry to the court, my family and friends I was involved in this.”

Former New Jersey state trooper James Harney, one of the other two men indicted as part of Operation Slapshot, was sentenced earlier this month to five years in prison. The third, James Ulmer, will find out his fate on August 24th.

The NHL has not yet decided whether or not Tocchet will be permitted to return to his position as assistant coach of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Posted by John Chandler on Aug 17, 2007 at 02:08 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL
1 CommentPermalink

Friday, August 03, 2007

Operation Slapshot Trooper to Be Sentenced

Updating the saga that was “Operation Slaption”, James Harney, the New Jersey State trooper involved in the gambling ring, will be sentenced today, almost a full year after pleading guilty.

He pleaded guilty on Aug. 3, 2006, and faces up to seven years in prison for conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct. His lawyer, Craig Mitnick, was planning to argue for a less severe sentence.

Update 140pm: Harney has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Posted by David M Singer on Aug 03, 2007 at 12:27 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Monday, July 09, 2007

Lay Down, Not Low

Obviously, Rick Tocchet is not concerned with appearances before his sentencing (Aug 17th).

According to, Tocchet’s playing in the World Series of Poker.  Not only that, so is his alleged gambling buddy Janet Jones (Gretzky).

I’m not one to judge here as I don’t think playing poker is the same as betting (or taking bets) on a sporting event, but there are many out there who lump it all into “gambling”.  For Tocchet’s sake, I hope the judge who rules on sentencing doesn’t hold his WSOP trip against him.

Update Jul 12 145pm: Tocchet did not show up for day two of the tournament:

Rick Tocchet Pulls a Vinnie Vinh
Yes, it’s unfortunate that Vinh’s condition has become a catchphrase, but I think it’s one that is here to stay. While Vinnie Vinh himself showed up today (but busted early with a short stack), Rick Tocchet never returned for his Day Two. He survived Day 1c with 17,100 in chips, and his stack made it to the second level without him before succumbing to the blinds. Why didn’t Tocchet ever return to play? There’s a theory that he was getting too much pressure for his legal troubles with gambling and conspiracy charges. While it’s completely legal for him (or anyone over the age of 21) to play in the World Series of Poker, it may have been bad for him in other ways. Regardless of the reason, Tocchet never returned on Day 2b, and his chips are now gone.

Hat tip to One Fan’s Perspective

Posted by David M Singer on Jul 09, 2007 at 02:54 PM
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3 CommentsPermalink

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Toch Block?

Jim Kelley broke out some reality with his punny title, Don’t bet on Tocchet’s return.

It’s being played that Tocchet really didn’t do much wrong, but he did plead guilty regarding his involvement in the betting ring and that will come up every time the Coyotes come to town if he were to be reinstated as a coach. The view from here is that Bettman won’t be cutting Tocchet any real slack anytime soon.

Indeed.  The league is going to have to wait and see what public perception is, because in the end that is what will rule.  The public seems to have forgiven Tocchet, but that doesn’t mean the public will forgive the league for allowing someone who plead guilty to being involved in a sports-related gambling ring, to have an influence in determining game outcomes.

Posted by David M Singer on May 31, 2007 at 03:06 AM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tocchet’s Next Step

Now that the guily plea has been entered, and jail time is not expected, the speculation as to what may be next for Rick Tocchet has begun.

The NHL has stated there won’t be any official ruling until sentencing, and after Tocchet has met with Bob Cleary, an investigator hired by the league.

New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Mark Eliades said there was a “presumption of non-incarceration” in the case because of the low level of the offenses and because Tocchet, 43, had no criminal record. Sentencing was scheduled for Aug. 22.

“You’re asking me to prognosticate,” Bettman said in response to a question about Tocchet’s future. “Rick Tocchet pled guilty to a Grade III felony. He has yet to be sentenced. . . . We will finally have an opportunity to have Bob Cleary, who is conducting our investigation, meet with him.

“I’m not in a position to say what is going to happen until they plead the disposition of his case and we have an independent arbitrator interview him and finish interviewing other people and present a report.”

Alanah has a great post about what may be next for Tocchet.  Be sure to read the comments.

Posted by David M Singer on May 30, 2007 at 03:06 AM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL

Friday, May 25, 2007

It’s Official: Tocchet Pleads Guilty

As expected, Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty to gambling charges earlier this morning. However there is a chance that Tocchet may never the inside of a jail cell.

Former NHL player Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty Friday to running a sports gambling ring, but might not have to serve any jail time.

He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling. Such offences usually do not carry a jail sentence for first-time offenders.

“It’s a huge operation and I think it exposes to people the allure of gambling, illegal gambling, in New Jersey,” state Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw said outside the courthouse.

The maximum sentence for the charges Tocchet pleaded guilty to are 10 years in prison and a US$50,000 fine. Paw would not say whether prosecutors will ask for jail time for Tocchet.

So Tocchet probably won’t see time behind bars and his other two accomplices will? I’m thinking it might have something to do with Harney and Ulmer’s charges being higher than third-degree and the fact that Harney was a cop of all things.

Tocchet’s lawyer, Rick Marino did say outside of the courthouse that Tocchet hasn’t spoken to the NHL yet in regards to how the guilty pleas may affect his future as a coach in the league.

Update 615pm: The Phoenix Coyotes have released this statement:

The Phoenix Coyotes will await the completion of the National Hockey League’s investigation and will support whatever decision the Commissioner may render regarding Mr. Tocchet’s status.

- DS

Posted by John Chandler on May 25, 2007 at 04:00 PM
Major StoriesOperation SlapshotNHL
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