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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Gretzky Wants Tocchet Back

After Gretzky re-signed with the Coyotes to remain head coach, it’s now time to turn to his assistants.  From the East Valley Tribune:

Gretzky, 44, said the deal was done Friday, and that he spent the last two days with his father, Walter, who said he was proud that Gretzky made the decision to continue as coach. Gretzky’s wife, Janet Jones, also attended the press conference.

Jones was named as a participant in a gambling ring also involving Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, who is being investigated by the league.

“You live and learn. I’m a big boy,’’ Gretzky said. “No question it was a tough year, but the reality was you move forward in life and believe in what you believe in and don’t let other people sway your beliefs.’’

Gretzky said he would like to retain assistant coach Barry Smith and will speak to assistant Rick Bowness, whose contract has expired. The Coyotes also would like to retain Tocchet but must wait until the league makes it decision.

Loyal to a fault?  Or simply sticking by a good coach during a rough time?

Posted by David M Singer on Jun 04, 2006 at 10:20 PM
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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Rick and Janet Strike Back

Now that it seems like the state of New Jersey is done leaking “information” about Rick Tocchet and (Queen of Canada) Janet Jones Gretzky, the two have decided to let NJ know what they think about all the fun tidbits we were hearing about mid-season.

Coach, Gretzky’s wife plan to sue N.J. for $50M each

A professional hockey coach charged with running a multimil lion-dollar sports gambling operation and the wife of the game’s greatest player are planning to sue the state for $50 million apiece, according to documents filed in Trenton.

Attorneys for Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet and Janet Jones filed notice May 8 they intend to sue the Department of Law and Public Safety, the State Police and the head of the State Police public information office for allegedly defaming them by illegally releasing evidence from confidential wiretaps.

It should be stressed that they’re not suing yet, they just filed notices of intent and have two years to file suit.

Posted by David M Singer on May 25, 2006 at 11:54 AM
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Friday, May 12, 2006

Non-Gambling Rick Tocchet News

Finally, a news item involving Rick Tocchet that’s not related to gambling.  From the Edmonton Sun’s Injury Report:

It’s not a comprehensive list, by any means. But here are some of the injuries Oiler Ryan Smyth has suffered over the years.

January 20, 1998

- Torn MCL, courtesy of a Rick Tocchet knee on knee.

Ouch.  Tocchet missed most of his last playing season due to a knee injury that he hurt in training camp that year.

He’s a HOF candidate, we’ll get that positive story involving him one day.

Posted by David M Singer on May 12, 2006 at 05:37 PM
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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Tocchet Waits

The non-update update from the Arizona Republic:

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office has yet to obtain an indictment, and officials there are mum on when - or if - Tocchet will be charged with a crime.

“It’s an ongoing investigation, and we can’t discuss the details,” said David Wald, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office. “We haven’t forgotten about anybody.”

Tocchet’s attorney did not return calls. The Coyotes declined to comment. The NHL, which also is conducting an investigation into the matter, said its probe is not finished.

Posted by David M Singer on May 11, 2006 at 01:53 PM
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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Flyers Questioned About Tocchet

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Investigators from the league office reportedly have interviewed nearly 50 people throughout the NHL, including a half-dozen Flyer players and staffers last week, to try to determine what people might have known about the alleged operation. The NHL will finish their interviews with the Flyers in the weeks ahead, Ryan said.

“It’s not an investigation on us,” Ryan said. “It’s the commissioner [Gary Bettman] trying to find out what he can about the allegations. The whole thing with our people was: Did any of our coaches or players know about these allegations or the people who may have been involved?”

The Coyotes were questioned a month ago, although it was only Phoenix players at that time.

Posted by David M Singer on Apr 16, 2006 at 11:00 AM
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

League Investigation Finds Little

Nothing you haven’t heard already, but ESPN is reporting that the NHL’s probe initially shows no evidence of NHL bets.

An independent investigator hired by the NHL to probe allegations of a gambling syndicate operated by Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet has interviewed NHL players and team officials, almost four dozen in all, and has yet to uncover any evidence the game’s integrity has been compromised by people betting on league games, sources close to the investigation told ESPN.com.

The initial results of the ongoing investigation, headed by former federal prosecutor Bob Cleary, suggest the gambling operation, which law enforcement officials allege was funded by Tocchet, is extremely narrow in focus and essentially extends only to a group of friends and associates close to Tocchet.

A source familiar with the NHL’s investigation said the questions asked did not delve into the gambling habits of the players beyond whether they had any connection with the Tocchet probe.

“It was pretty specific,” the source told ESPN.com.

The article also has a reminder about the NHL’s gambling policy:

Prohibits gambling on any NHL game but does not have a policy against other sports betting. Also has a general morality clause in the standard player’s contract that says players must “refrain from conduct detrimental to the best interests of the club, the league or professional hockey generally.”

ESPN.com has also had a good round-up of “Operation Slapshot” on the right-side the article.

Posted by David M Singer on Apr 11, 2006 at 02:28 AM
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Saturday, March 18, 2006

Coyotes Questioned About Gambling Ring

The Arizona Republic is reporting that many of the Phoenix Coyotes were questioned about the alleged gambling ring involving Rick Tocchet.

Multiple sources with the team confirmed many, but not all, of the team’s 21 players on this trip were interviewed individually for about 10 minutes at the team’s hotel as part of the league’s ongoing investigation into what New Jersey State Police called “Operation Slap Shot.”

Only players were questioned.

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 18, 2006 at 05:17 AM
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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gretzky Needs to Remain an Earthling

ESPN’s Terry Frei isn’t going after Wayne Gretzky, just his holy status.

The elephant still is over there in the corner, and for the most part, we’re all trying to avoid talking about it.

Could someone at least take the poor thing some peanuts and water?

This is figurative, of course. The elephant is an “it,” representing Wayne Gretzky’s at least peripheral and very-late-in-the-game connection to a New Jersey-based sports gambling ring.

After the initial what-did-you-know-and-when furor, both on this side of the Atlantic and under the Olympic rings in Torino, nobody seems to want to say much about “it” any longer.

Frei, who sometimes takes an outlandish view on the latest hockey/sports issues, is dead-on here.

The wave seemed to go like this:
1) Initial Tocchet-gambling-connection craziness.
2) Breaking news of Janet Jones Gretzky’s involvement.  Did Wayne know?
3) Wayne Gretzky questioned like crazy.
4) Criticisms of the way the media treated Gretzky (especially here online).
5) Silence.

For some reason, when a scandal hits, everyone’s allowed to be grilled except for Wayne Gretzky.  It’s not that Gretzky should be grilled, but it’s a scandal and hockey’s golden boy is possibly connected somehow.  To not try and find the truth is irresponsible - as are false accusations (somethign Frei also points out) - but the matter can’t be ignored and Gretzky’s records cannot shield him from the same scrutiny as everyone else would/should receive.

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 16, 2006 at 06:09 PM
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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Janet Jones to Testify Before Grand Jury

No date has been set, but when a grand jury is called to look at the case about the alledged gambling ring involving Rick Tocchet, Janet Jones will be called to testify in front of it.
From the AP:

In her first major interview since being sworn in as attorney general six weeks ago, Zulima Farber said that Janet Jones would be called to testify about the high-stakes gambling ring as soon as a grand jury convenes.

“She would be getting a grand jury subpoena, so when the grand jury convenes she’ll get a subpoena,” Farber said. “She’ll be served. She hasn’t been because there is no grand jury yet hearing the case.”

Update Mar 16 1100pm: Janet Jones Gretzky promises cooperation

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 15, 2006 at 08:00 PM
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No Harm Done

While the scandal-like atmosphere of the alleged gambling ring involving Rick Tocchet has simmered down, it has not completely faded away.

From a CP story yesterday:

Despite the NHL’s ongoing investigation into an alleged gambling ring, commissioner Gary Bettman says the affair has not damaged the league’s reputation.

“What’s becoming increasingly clear - and it was from the outset - is that this had nothing to do with hockey,” Bettman said Tuesday. “It has nothing to do with the integrity of our game.” In February, New Jersey state police accused Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet with being a partner and financier of an alleged gambling ring.

Continuing on with the “was it related to hockey” theme, he added:

“nothing new or dramatic which would any way implicate our game has been uncovered, and I think the conventional wisdom is, if it had anything to do with our game, we would have got some inkling of that by now.”

Posted by David M Singer on Mar 15, 2006 at 02:16 PM
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