Saturday, August 18, 2007

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;
So, even with the evidence provided by the trooper and recordings of Tocchet's conversations with those involved with the ring, the prosecution chose a probationary plea deal over taking the most high-profile member of this whole business to trial.

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.


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At 10:54 p.m., August 18, 2007, Blogger PB said...

Hi James -

Fair or not, I think it comes down to one specific issue:

If my friend said, "Hey, can you do me a solid?"

And that solid was illegal...I would decline and Tocchet should have too.

Reminds me of Mike Matusow, the poker player. He was jailed a couple of years ago because a friend of his wanted to score cocaine. Matusow fell into a drug sting and was incarcerated. True, gambling and drug trafficking are two different crimes, but they share the same common thread.

Just say no...:-)

I would like to see Tocchet back, but I think he should lay low for awhile so this whole thing can be forgotten, or until another scandal takes it place.

My $.02 and probably not worth that much.

At 12:13 a.m., August 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well to move the topic off of Tocchet for a moment and to sound a little contrarian: In order for the NHL to grow in the US, hockey has to become more gambling friendly not less. No one denies that one of the NFL's biggest attractions is that gambling on it is so easy, and yes, whatever the league says, it facilitates that gambling. (why else would you have public injury reports?). We now inhabit a society where you can't swing a cat without hitting some gambling establishment or gaming outlet. Governments are raking in millions of dollars but we are adamant that athletes not be involved. I'm sorry, but that is not realistic. With so much money sloshing around, both legitimate and illegitimate, these types of gambling stories are here to stay. In fact James, the Globe and Mail should put Rick on staff, so you can have an 'expert' to quote when the next scandal breaks.

At 12:18 a.m., August 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think (my favorite player) Tocchet did something wrong because he got two years probation.

Even in US they don't give sentences just for fun.


I was listening to Ottawa's Team 1200 sports radio couple of days ago.

One of the listeners was worried about role models for her kids. Vick, Bell, Tocchet etc. were mentioned.

I was wondering what does these things gotta do with sports?

Mark Bell was drunk and hit another car and it's about hockey or sports... how?

Did he have skates on, stick in his hands???

At 7:53 a.m., August 19, 2007, Anonymous Baroque said...

I agree with PB. Take some time off (maybe scout or something for a year, something not as public as being behind an NHL bench), scrupulously observe the terms of the probation, and then start feeling out how best to get back into coaching. Being a good citizen for a little while and staying out of trouble will help the whole thing fade.

The biggest problems any public figures have is when there is a series of incidents, not just one story, dealt with, and no subsequent offenses.

And he should be smarter than to get involved in something like that. Think a little next time, Mr. Tocchet.

At 12:20 p.m., August 19, 2007, Blogger LeaferSutherland said...

If Tocchet was still the star player of the Philadelphia Flyers, the NHL would have found a way to forgive him and bring him back. But since he is merely an assistant coach for the basement dwelling Phoenix Coyotes, he will be easily sent on his way.

Despite this coming at the same time the NBA is dealing with their own gambling demons, Tocchet should not be said with the same breathe as Donaghy. And I don't believe many fans would equate the one situation with the other. However, I doubt Mr. Bettman will see it that way.

Fair? Since when is anything fair in pro sports?

At 2:48 p.m., August 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon #1 is right. More gambling is what the NHL needs, not less. Full disclosure on injury reports. More attention to collecting stats. And Rick Tocchet on staff at TSN handicapping games.
It seems to have disappeared in recent years on NFL broadcasts, but in the 70s-80s-90s you couldn't turn on a pre-game or half-time show without being hit by numerous references to the point spread. Talk all you want about Pete Rozelle, Joe Namath and the Stupor Bowl and big TV deals, but gambling is what turned the NFL from a glorified CFL into America's No. 1 sport.
Sosa and McSteroid saved baseball? Phhht. TQ Stats (fantasy baseball) is more like it.

At 4:22 p.m., August 19, 2007, Blogger mike w said...

I don't see why he won't be back behind a bench.

It's not like he drowned puppies for fun or anything.


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