It's been just two days since this story broke, but I'm already sick about hearing about "Operation Slapshot" that the New Jersey State Police has set-up. God Bless them for doing their job, but the media has just taken it and let all hell break loose in an attempt to make their coverage better than the other. I'm so effing tired of hearing about this, especially when all the facts are sketchy at best. Especially some people talking about how this is all another black eye for the NHL and all this other crap, which couldn't be further from the truth.
Though Rick Tocchet has been fingered for allegedly supplying the money for an illegal gambling ring in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area. Now, his lawyer, Kevin Marino, has said that the charges against his client are "categorically false and irresponsible." Marino went on to say, "We deeply regret the attorney-general's precipitous charges and are appalled by the media frenzy. Mr. Tocchet will fight the false charges with the same grit and resolve he displayed during his illustrious playing career."
To help start their damage control, the NHL has hired the Unabomber prosecutor, Robert J. Cleary to conduct an internal investigation. The NHL wants all their bases covered for a worse case scenario that could arise.
Now, the story goes, and the flow chart shows that alledgedly, Rick Tocchet and former New Jersey State Trooper James J. Harney were partners in this ring, which included at least six bettors from the NHL, as well as "a Hollywood actress", whom is alledged to be Janet Jones-Gretzky, wife of Wayne Gretzky. Also, some reports have said that there is a connection to a "crime family" in the Philadelphia area. How close that connection is has yet to be determined. When asked, Tocchet has stated it had nothing to do with hockey, but it was mostly professional and college football and basketball.
Now, here is where I start to rant and rave-- so strap in.
If there is nothing to do with hockey what-so-ever, who cares?? I mean, really-- how is this a bad thing for the NHL as a whole?? All this shows to me is that there are some high-profile people who made a irresponsible and irrational decision. As long as there is nothing dealing with hockey at all, then I don't see how this is a big issue and a black-eye for the NHL. However, if there is evidence showing there was some NHL betting or information-- then that's where the crap hits the fan. However, there has been no evidence of that, even some leaks that there was absolutely no NHL hockey involved during this operation.
I'm just sick and tired of people jumping to conclusions. Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey agrees. Lyle has said this is a knee jerk reaction by the media in a "shoot first, ask question later" kind of thing. That point is very true, mainly because everyone wants to get the story first. Lyle even went as far as saying that if there is no proof of hockey gambling, it would not be as big of a black eye as the media hyped it up to be. "Bottom Line: Unless it is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that these people activly bet on hockey games, it is not a black-eye that is going to hurt the NHL," Lyle finished.
The NHL has done the first good step by granted Rick Tocchet an indefinite leave of absence, in which, he won't be able to have any contact with League or Club Personnel, Tocchet won't be reinstated until the Commissoner has said so, and his terms could be modified at any time. By distancing themselves from Tocchet, that's one less headache they will have to worry about. Though it is a small headache, it's still a headache nonetheless.
The bottom line in all this is that this is very sketchy and preliminary right now. We don't know in what capacity Tocchet had to do with it, though he has acknowledge something like this has existed. The whole Mob connection, we don't know if it is a direct connection or if it is a fourth cousin of a friend, who knows the "crime family." Also, we don't know what the hell will come out of it. With such harsh critique given to this case, Harney and alledged bettor James A. Ulmer are out on bail right now, awaiting their day in court.
So, until I hear something concrete, one way or the other, I want to ask all the media and fans to stop blowing this whole thing out of proportion and don't immediately think that everything is bad in the NHL. Of course, no one really cares about the NHL until something bad happens (Bertuzzi, Heatley, Lockout), so it really shouldn't surprise anyone at all.
This has been ScottyWazz. Take care of yourself and someone else. PEACE!!