Phoenix Coytoes assistant coach Rick Tocchet finds himself the centre of a gambling sting investigation. Tocchet was served with a criminal complaint on Tuesday and is expected to appear in New Jersey to answer charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.
It's suggested by New Jersey law enforcement officials that at least six current NHL players availed themselves of the services allegedly provided by Tocchet, but none placed wagers on hockey games.
Also arrested in the investigation code named "Operation Slap Shot", was an eight year veteran of the New Jersey state police James J. Harney who was involved in the gambling operation. Tocchet is suspected of providing the funding to get the operation up and running.
New Jersey law officials also stated that the operation had a connection with organized crime but did not expand on that link.
The NHL had very little to say regarding the breaking news regarding one of their assistant coaches. Vice President Bill Daly offered up these comments as the official comment for now. No doubt the league and its fans await the reaction of Coyotes part owner and head coach Wayne Gretzky, Gretzky's wife Janet was implicated in the affair apparently having placed bets with the ring. It will also be interesting to hear how League President Gary Bettman will approach the broadening scandal, which many think could become one of sports biggest scandals.
The league has a no gambling on hockey policy, which apparently was not violated in these incidents. The bettors placed wagers on college football and basketball games for the most part and no wagers were thought to have been placed on hockey. Which will be good news for those un-named current players involved in this, the status of Tocchet however may be a little more tenuous.
Organizing and financing a gambling operation, if proven true, probably will be looked upon a little less favourably by the NHL brass, as will any connections linked to organized crime as has been suggested by the New Jersey police officials.