A story broke today that former Flyer Rick Tocchet funded a lucrative gambling ring that included a New Jersey state trooper and Wayne Gretzky's wife Janet Jones. According to the story on foxsports, New Jersey police found that the ring had processed in excess of 1000 wagers totalling over $1.7 million. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the ring also had ties to the mob.
Tocchet is currently employed as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, so it is important to get to the bottom of this. The reports indicate that hockey players involved in the ring (and Tocchet) were not involved betting on their own games of fixing games.
What are the ramifications of this unearthing? It would be naive to think that there aren't many other athletes who are involved in gambling- whether it be legal or illegal. But the key for hockey- or any other sport- is that no links are found to betting by athletes on the games in which they compete (or coach). Anything else will be forgotten by fans. But if this leads to more athletes betting on a great many games and if there is any connection found to betting on their own games... well, this might just the tip of the iceberg. It's hard to imagine that the public at large would stand for evidence of game fixing, point shaving, or the like.
Athletes gamble? So what. A lot of us do and a lot of us like it. But if someone on my team bet either for or against his own team? Now there's a great deal more at stake than what he is letting on. I paid good money to watch this team and I want an honest game. The same would hold true if it involved someone on the opponent of my team.
I hope this is the end of it. But something tells me that with all of the pro athletes out there, the amount of gambling that occurs in our country, and the "nobody can touch me" attitude that many of these athletes now have, this just might be the tip of the iceberg.