Additional information continues to trickle out about the investigation of a gambling ring involving some NHL players, coaches, Jersey cops and the mob.
Rumor-mill-style, the Yahoo! story “A Great, big mess” whispers:
There are stories of Philly mobsters sitting in Eric Lindros’ Flyers comp seats. There is significant evidence of Russian players being linked to the Russian mafia, a charge the league never wanted to investigate and, realistically, never properly could.
Further, the NJ Star Ledger has a story “Gretzky in damage control on wiretap” that says he (Gretzky) and Tocchet were recorded during a phone call in which they:
… discussed what authorities knew about the gambling operation, how they knew it and how they and Jones could stay out of trouble…
Erin asked me, “Why the big fuss? Everyone does it [betting on sports] anyway.” Well, here’s what’s up. First and foremost, gambling of any sort is by-and-large illegal in the U.S. There are places where it’s legal (reservations, Vegas, race tracks, etc.) but if you do it where it’s not legal, you broke the law and can be held accountable for your illegal actions if you get caught. It is truly that simple.
That canon aside, the investigation of this particular gambling ring (unlike myriad others that are undoubtedly being conducted right now) enjoys the benefit of involving several high-profile public figures. These aren’t shady, crooked-nosed mobsters; they’re professional athletes whose League prohibits any illegal activity whatsoever (*ahem* manslaughter Dany Heatly *ahem*). The investigation is then inherently vaulted to “high-profile” status, which may or may not be a legal tactic employed by the prosecutors. I doubt very seriously if the NHL players/coaches involved are the true targets of the investigation; the NJ staties are merely setting them up for public character hara-kiri so they’ll turn state’s evidence and help them nab higher-level mob guys. Duh.
Point is, it’s a big fuss because RegularGuy revels in the pain and misfortunes of rich athletes and celebrities.
As for Gretzky, he will come out clean, regardless of whether or not he had prior knowledge of the gambling ring—or even if he placed bets—because his wife will take the bullet for him. His value as The Untarnished Great One—and continued role in NHL/Canada hockey—greatly outweighs her clout as an “actress”. Plus, Tocchet has no reason to call out his boss/buddy; he’s in enough trouble already, and doing so would make him the guy that destroyed the reputation of “hockey’s greatest player of all time”… and I’m sure he (Tocchet) doesn’t want to learn how to spell pariah.