Much ado about Tocchet
There are all sorts of stories coming out in the wake of his sentencing yesterday, but really, there's just one question I think we need an answer to: What, exactly, did Rick Tocchet do?
James Harney, the New Jersey state trooper who plead guilty to conspiracy, promoting gambling and official misconduct last year, said Tocchet was a 50/50 partner in the gambling ring. The former Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach's lawyer, Kevin Marino, however, says Tocchet placed just one bet for another party (believed to be football-related wagers from Janet Jones/Gretzky) — and that that was the only illegal activity he took part in (placing one's own bets with a gambling outfit is not illegal in New Jersey).
It's a he said, she said situation, and perhaps we'll never really know Tocchet's role now that he's copped a plea. But here's the pertinent information we do know:
- Harney was sentenced to five years in prison for his role in the gambling ring;
- Tocchet received only a probationary sentence;
- Harney had agreed to cooperate fully with officials in providing information against Tocchet;
Operation Slapshot? Not so much. (In fact, the juiciest material seems to be the fact that this state trooper was conducting some of his gambling operations from his patrol car.)
Maybe I'm missing something, but Tocchet's biggest problem here seems to be that he showed terrible, terrible judgment by ever getting mixed up with the likes of Harney. And despite the fact Tocchet's illegal activities may have been quite limited, many in the know say there's little chance he gets back behind an NHL bench.