Thursday, February 09, 2006

How deep are we, Mr. Gretzky?

"The reality is, I'm not involved, I wasn't involved and I'm not going to be involved."
— Wayne Gretzky
February 7, 2006

There are a few things that almost go without saying today, now that Wayne Gretzky has been caught talking about the gambling ring on wiretaps.

Gretzky's not going to Turin. Imagine the sideshow if he did? Here's the Toronto Star's Damien Cox in his baby blog:
The clear question that follows all of this, at least for Canadians, is should Gretzky go to Turin? You can bet European journalists are not going to be shy about raising the gambling story, just as they're going to be very, very interested in going over the entire Steve Moore incident again with Canadian Olympic winger Todd Bertuzzi.
Regardless, this whole business is going to affect Team Canada's hockey team. Questions are going to be asked of the team's players and coaches for the duration of the tournament (it's already started), and, if Canada slips and — gasp — doesn't win gold, you better believe the postscripts will all point to this deal.

So, if Gretzky steps down from Team Canada, the question then becomes 'where does it end?' Does he leave the Coyotes? Sell his interest in the team? Leave hockey altogether?

Sound crazy? Well, we're headed into crazy territory. As Cox says, it's getting messier.

Sportsnet is reporting Janet Gretzky will be making a statement later today, so stay tuned.

UPDATE And here, too, is the Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole, a guy who cut his teeth as a sportswriter covering Gretzky and all those Oiler dynasties in the '80s.

It's got to be killing the NHL. It's got to be killing Team Canada, whose arrival in Turin on Tuesday morning was going to be a triumphant one for the defending gold medallists. But now, the head of the delegation is going to be here, holding the bag for his wife and his buddy, Tocchet. There is no hiding, once Gretzky is on the ground in Italy. He's not involved, but his good name surely is.

Gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. Maybe racketeering, before it's all over. That's for Tocchet.

Even if none of it ends up touching The Great One, it will have come closer than we would ever have believed.

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At 4:07 p.m., February 09, 2006, Anonymous canadian said...

As a canadian, I hope Gretzky steps down from the olympics. I can't see him doing so, and I think it would be nice if the players could have a vote. I think most Canadians share this view.

At 8:52 a.m., February 10, 2006, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

This issue is typical of the media, whose love for salacious dirt on any famous person (other than GW Bush, of course) is legendary. Tocchet is the guy who caused this problem, not Gretzky. The fact that Gretz may have known about the ring doesn't make him a bad guy, or a complicit guy. People gamble, and people who have lots of money gamble lots of money. Unfortunately, it's an issue where the appearance of impropriety speaks louder than the "criminal" act itself.

The reality of life is that competitive people ARE COMPETITIVE...therefore they like gambling. It's not something as serious as murder, or lying to the world about reasons to start a war, or falsifying history to support a deluded political outlook. The NJ State Police are the ones who should really be the bad guys here--like most cops they get hot and sweaty when they have a chance to embarrass a famous person, since it insures that they'll receive lots of media attention. I guess the next step for the NJ Police is to start busting players' and coaches' card games.

The other thing that is annoying about the media treatment of the Gretzky situation is that sexist sportswriters are insinuating that Janet Jones couldn't possibly be the person who was really betting on football. I know a few ladies whose knowledge of the game is rather formidable. My wife won our football pool this year, defeating 37 other contestants to bring home the big prize.

I hope Gretzky weathers this storm. Michael Jordan made his well-documented gambling problems disappear in order to eventually become part owner of an NBA franchise. I hope that Canadians can see past this. Gambling doesn't make you a bad person, unless you're taking money out of the mouths of your children to do so.

At 12:27 p.m., February 10, 2006, Anonymous Lars said...

I hope Gretzky does NOT step down and for him to do so would be ridiculous. I think Canadians are smarter than to think whatever is going on with the media circus or their irresponsible feeding frenzy will affect what happens on the ice. This is his team, this is our game and he has done absolutely nothing wrong. For any columnist to suggest otherwise is foolhardy. Is there any evidence of wrongdoing by Wayne Gretzy? No? Then STFU.

At 12:40 p.m., February 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear lars - The canadiean olympic hockey team is not wayne gretzky's team. It belong's to the players and canadians.

At 12:43 p.m., February 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

p.s. dear lars - There has been evidence of his wrong doing, first by denying he knew anything about the gambling ring lie-that was proven by the wire tapping.

At 11:32 a.m., February 11, 2006, Anonymous stmarysllp said...

Remember Bruce McNall, Gretzky's friend and partner who spent 4 years in jail. Now Rick Tocchet. If nothing else Gretzky has made lousy choices for friends.

At 10:58 p.m., February 11, 2006, Anonymous Dave said...

I can honestly say that very few people in Canada outside of the media goofs think this is a story at all. Gretzky may well have had knowledge that his wife had a gambling problem but beyond that there is no connection. Even in Janet's case, placing bets is not illegal and unless someone can show that they were involved in running the betting ring, it is of no consequence whatsoever. Gretzky should certainly go to the Olympics and I think he will but you can be sure he has the players support. I am also sure that some jackass will ask a Canadian medal winner from another sport what the 'scandal' has meant to them...which is just an insult to them. I doubt many of other Canadian athletes have given this story more than 2 seconds thought.

At 3:53 p.m., February 13, 2006, Anonymous Lars said...

Hey "anonymous", what have you to say now? Nothing? Perhaps you misunderstood a couple of things - one, it is Gretzky's team, he put it together and two, you still have no evidence he did anything wrong. In fact, the evidence actually benefits him. Now if we could just get you some help untying those panties of yours that got so twisted ....


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