Tocchet: "It's not a hockey-related issue, it's a football thing."

Big news in the sports world, or at least in the hockey world. It hasn’t really been on the news much around here, we’re not much of a hockey town. But it’s all over the internet sports site for the last couple of days… Wayne Gretzky, his wife, and Rick Tocchet have been implicated to varying degrees in a gambling ring. The Great One himself hasn’t really been implicated, or at least those are his statements, but his wife, Janet Jones, has been implicated as having placed bets totaling more than 6 figures for herself in the past six or seven weeks.

Wayne himself says he was not involved, and didn’t know what was going on until Tocchet called him on Monday night of this week. That was the story on Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, anonymous sources revealed that through wire taps, there had been some confirmation that Wayne himself knew what was going on, but there was no evidence that he had actually placed any bets himself. The group, including a Police officer from New Jersey, took bets from NHL payers, and placed bets for them on football games, and some college basketball. No evidence of betting on hockey though. Janet even won money ($5000!!) on the COIN TOSS of the SuperBowl.


As I said, no papers or local TV are reporting this news here, at least not yet. Indictments are expected. Tough timing, really. You have the head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes NHL team, who also happens to be the big man at Hockey Canada, the group that manages Canada’s Olympic hockey team. He is the coach of that team as well, and is (apparently) heading to Italy to defend his gold medal won in Salt Lake four years ago. Tocchet is the assistant coach of the roadrunners, but has been given an indefinite leave of absence, pending the rest of the story. Tochet was the stand-in head coach while Gretzky was attending to his dying mother a few months ago. Now the Coyotes are high and dry, depending on a third string coach to get by in probably 5-7 games while The Great One is away.

So, my main question is, “Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot, OVER!!?” I mean, really!! I was in the street on the Saturday morning when Wayne and Janet were married, along with every other lunch-box toting, steel-toe boot wearin', hockey fight lovin' citizen of that hockey town. He is the Royal Son of Edmonton. He has been since he was 16 and walked off the plane to play hockey there, and he has been ever since, even after he left to play for the LA Kings. Janet is the adopted Royal Daughter in Edmonton, by virtue of the fact that Wayne Can Do No Wrong. And by virtue of the very simple fact that she was (and still is…) HOT HOT HOT!!... All of a sudden, Mr. Gretzky was the man who had everything. He OWNED the NHL, and he was married to a hottie besides!

Since that time, I have moved away from there, and so has he. However, I have passively followed his career path, both inside hockey and out. They always appeared to have the Idyllic Life, everything one could possibly hope for, dream for, want. He was still active in hockey, and eventually ended up with an ownership part in the Phoenix Coyotes, and ultimately ending up behind the bench as their coach. Imagine a rookie somehow getting lucky enough to play for that team, and be tutored at his feet?! How cool would it be to strap on the blades for practice knowing that The Great One will be skating with you, might even pass you the puck…

Both Wayne and his wife garnered respect both inside and out of hockey. Obviously, they have more money than any of the rest of us “common folk” could ever hope to have. I mean, really, if you’re betting on the COIN TOSS of the superbowl, you have throw pillows stuffed with cash, not feathers.

It’s unfortunate that this happens to people. Do they totally lose perspective on what is at stake when they decide to these kinds of risks – and I’m not talking about placing a bet on the toss of a coin either – I’m talking about getting involved with a gambling scheme that links one to Philadelphia mobsters, and who knows what else. (Tochet spent much of his NHL playing days in Philly.) And frankly it is something that one could almost predict from a former player that logged more than 3000 penalty minutes, but you wouldn’t expect it from the wife of the most famous and well-loved hockey personality on earth. Did she realize she was risking JAIL time? Not to mention losing her kids, husband, life as she knows it? What did you do, Janet???!! I find it hard to imagine what was going through her mind? I mean REALLY!! How could you risk throwing that away. It SEEMED that for 20 years, they had the world by the tail, and really Wayne has had the world by the tail since before he started shaving.

An unfortunate setback – time will tell how really bad things are going to get.

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