Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Care To Wager On That?

While the hockey world awaits the decision from the Commissioner on any future relationship between Phoenix Coyote assistant coach Rick Tocchet and the NHL, one has to wonder if Glen Sather was hired as a consultant to the case. It's saying something when the courts and a Mike Peca signing can come to a conclusion before the NHL can. Once the gavel does come down, I suspect it the Coyotes will be placing a job wanted ad. in their local newspaper.

Already I have heard Rick Tocchet compared to Pete Rose, Michael Vick, NBA officials, the entire White Sox organization and Tony Soprano. Osama Bin Laden won't be far behind. And while hockey fans worry about how the NHL will be perceived by Greater America, Americans are busy talking about dog fighting at the moment.

The truth is, that no matter what Bettman decides, this remains a non-story to almost everyone that is not already a fan of this league. In fact, the greater story is barely ever spoken and will inevitably be the deciding factor in Bettman's decision.

I suspect when the day comes, the Commish will speak of things such as ethics, and a hard-lined stance against sports betting in his NHL fraternity. He might also try to draw everyones attention to the 3 major leagues and the issues they are all currently dealing with.

The truth of the matter is that Rick Tocchet will be put on the proverbial walking plank merely because he is expendable and he will provide the easiest way for the NHL to sweep this whole mess under it's political rug. Had it merely been a question of Tocchet breaking the law, the NHL would also have to look at various others. Most of which have alcohol related rap sheets. And if it were indeed true that this was the NHL's way of separating themselves from the gambling world, why should it stop with Tocchet?

I know that the courts have decided to not press charges, or even release the names of the high profile players in Tocchet's gambling ring. But with names like Jeremy Roenick leaking out to the media, do you think this will keep him from becoming a well known TV sports analyst used to promote the league to those stubborn Yanks that have yet to jump on board? Highly doubtful. But even Roenick might be looked at as expendable, if need be, compared to the NHL's golden boy. Wayne Gretzky.

Now I know that it was implicated that Janet Jones Gretzky had ties to Tocchet's ring and not her husband. And plenty of theorists are quick to assume that all of this was done behind her wholesome husband's back. But really, what is the likelihood of her making substantial wagers linked to her partner's right hand man without his knowledge? And even if you could get your head around that one, do you really think if all this was done without Wayne's knowledge, that he would be campaigning to have Tocchet back?

There is no doubt in my mind that Gretzky shares the same gambling ethics his wife has been reported as having. And it shouldn't take too much digging on the NHL's part to find out for themselves. But of course, such a maneuver by the league would wake up the various TV stations and Sports Radio channels across the continent that are currently content talking about Michael Vick. And that is something Bettman does not want to do.

So farewell Rich Tocchet. Thanks for all those years, even if they were in a Flyer uniform. And thanks for showing us that bodychecks can happen in All Star games. Sorry you have to be the patsy here, but chances are, you'd never get another coaching job the day Phoenix let you walk anyways.