Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Bettman Must Lay Down The Law

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Bettman must exercise every power he owns by virtue of his office and the league's by-laws to commission a thorough investigation of the facts. Tocchet must take a leave of absence through the completion of the judicial process and league review, and it he isn't intelligent to do so voluntarily, Bettman must order it. Then, if it becomes fact that players and team officials were indeed caught up in this, the commissioner must issue strict punishments, including suspensions, if not expulsion - to the full extent of the law. This isn't going to go away. Bettman must be out front on this. The viability of the league depends on it.
more (reg. req.)

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Reactions To Operation Slap Shot

via TSN, Bob McKenzie, the Hockey Insider, expresses his views (will open wmp video) on the Tocchet situation. Plus, Gary Bettman responds (will open wmp video) to the charges. update 11:07pm, from TSN,

"We have evidence that leads us to believe that the traditional organized crime families that exist in the city of Philadelphia have exercised some degree of influence over this enterprise," Lt. Col. Frank Rodgers of the New Jersey State Police told TSN. "A relatively large number of players distributed pretty equally around the United States and that includes some of the management and coaches associated with the NHL as well." While the investigation may eventually lead to Canada, at this point, authorities are focusing their attention on five American cities, including Phoenix, Boston and St. Paul.
update 11:15pm, from KYW-TV in Philadelphia,
Sources close to the investigation told CBS 3 two others questioned, but not charged, in connection with the gambling ring are the wife of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, actress Janet Jones, and former Flyer Jeremy Roenick.

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OLN- The Voice Of The NHL

OLN has the Blackhawks/Yotes game tonight so you would think we would get some information about 'Operation Slapshot'. They start off with Phoenix captain Shane Doan who is asked, "You must be looking forward to get on the ice"question to get your mind back on the game.... Of course, Doan responds by saying something like, "That is what we do". Back to the studio with Clement, Jones, Eddie O and someone else. Ok, here we go.....to the highlights of games being played and then "we will be back after the 1st period". That's it, hockey fans are tuned in to get any additional information, but we get nothing at all!!! A perfect time to tell it like it is, but OLN followed the company line and that is disappointing. Any complaints, file them with the Acid Queen (rated R for language). update 9:43pm, Bill Clement read a story about the gambling charges during the 1st period intermission and showed clips of Gretzky and Tocchet that we have seen or heard. Went to Neil Smith in Phoenix and no new news from there. Maybe Scott Burnside of ESPN reflects on the thoughts of many of the fans,

Record attendance. A brand new, exciting product on the ice. Unprecedented buzz in NHL cities where the playoff races promise to come down to the final moment of the final weekend. Now we have Mr. Action, Rick Tocchet, and his alleged merry band of bettors. Where the path takes both he and the game is anyone's guess. But chances are it's a path that's going to get a lot darker than Tuesday's "what, me worry?" reaction from the league would suggest.

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What The GMs Really Do At The Meetings

from John Buccigross of ESPN,

The NHL general managers will meet this week in Las Vegas to eat expensive steaks, drink top-shelf scotch, play blackjack at 3 a.m. and contemplate what they would give up for Eric Weinrich. I would love to give a waitress a goalie cam to wear in her hair. I bet my kid's head that at some point one evening a 50- or 60-something GM to be named later would scream, "Mmm, I love scotch!
read on

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Zhitnik Out Of Olympics

fro the AP via the Seattle Post Intelligencer,

Alexei Zhitnik's sprained ankle has knocked the New York Islanders defenseman out of the Olympics. Zhitnik, chosen to play for Russia in the Turin Games that begin next week, said after practice Tuesday that he will likely sit out New York's final two games before the Olympic break and stay home to recover.

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Investigation Could Be A NHL Nightmare

via TSN,

Now that a "covert" police operation in New Jersey has busted an illegal bookmaking operation, the New Jersey State Police's "overt" investigation will kick into high gear and that could be the NHL’s worst nightmare.
More updates will be added to this thread as they become available. note: If you want to follow what has been happening the last few hours, you can read about it in this post. update 3:47pm, Statement from the Bill Daly of the NHL-
"While we know little more than has been released publicly, we understand that Mr. Tocchet's conduct in no way involved betting on hockey. And, while betting on football or other sports may be the pervasive issue, it in no way justifies poor judgment or otherwise alleged inappropriate conduct. "With respect to the alleged conduct of the unnamed players, it is difficult to have any comment at this point, although everything we have heard, again, indicates it is not hockey-related."
update 5:03pm, via the AP,
Wayne Gretzky's wife and about a half-dozen NHL players placed bets - but not on hockey - with a nationwide sports gambling ring financed by Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, authorities said Tuesday. Gretzky, hockey's greatest player, is in his first season coaching the Coyotes and is a part-owner of the team. Actress-wife Janet Jones was among those implicated, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because no bettors have been publicly identified.
update 5:50pm, David from the Ice Block brings up the Roenick incident, something I cannot even recall.
I have yet to see a Jeremy Roenick mention. Remember, he didn’t bet on hockey either after he paid over $100k for betting tips.
more update 6:09pm, ESPN (Sportscenter) had a bit of the interview Wayne Gretzky did earlier today and a reporter asked him that talk is his wife is involved in this. Wayne looked a little surprised and said he did not know, you would have to ask her. update 6:19pm, Fan 590 in Toronto had a law enforcement person on from New Jersey and this is not over by any means. The FBI is now in the picture, more high profile names are involved and more arrests are coming. Still investigating if hockey betting was involved, but did say the majority of the bets were on football and basketball. update 6:22pm, from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Here's my quick take based on what we've heard out of New Jersey on Tuesday afternoon: Rick Tocchet appears to be in a world of trouble. And he may be dragging some of hockey's biggest names down with him.
read on update 6:40pm, via ESPN, Lt. Gerald Lewis of the New Jersey State Police public information office told ESPN.com that other athletes, some retired and some currently active, would be interviewed, but he wouldn't say how many are connected to the NHL. Lewis said the interest in talking to the people who were placing bets is to determine if there was an illegality on the part of the bettors and also to try to learn more about the scope of the betting operation. He said the NHL had not been contacted during the investigation even though the league has a security arm that tries to educate players to possible legal problems. He said the state police were under no obligation to share their information with the league prior to the laying of charges. Lewis said he would hope "that at some point [the NHL] would investigate." update 8:10pm, from Eric Duhtaschek of the Globe and Mail,
In many ways, Bettman's response to the charges was more decisive than usual, an indication that he's taking the matter seriously. His normal pattern would be simply to stall and bluster and misdirect and wait for more significant evidence of wrong-doing before proceeding with any kind of action that would lend credence to the charges. Instead, he indicated that Tocchet would not be behind the bench for Wednesday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks (after Gretzky previously indicated that it was business as usual for his Coyotes); and that the league would conduct its own independent investigation of the matter, to determine how far-reaching the matter really went.
read on update 8:15pm, How big is this? Maybe a visit to Vancouver Canucks Op Ed will help you decide. Or maybe the resident Naval Officer has the proper response. update 9:43pm, This thread is being put to bed. Stories regarding this topic will now be posted in individual threads. So start from the top of the page and work your way down.

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Sharks Sign Pair

from the San Jose Sharks,

San Jose Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson announced that the club has signed right wing Jonathan Cheechoo to a five-year contract extension. Cheechoo was slated to become a restricted free agent following the conclusion of the 2005-06 season. In keeping with club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
more via TSN,
The San Jose Sharks announced that the club has signed right wing Jonathan Cheechoo and netminder Evgeni Nabokov to a five and four-year contract extensions, respectively.

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Good Time To Talk Trades

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

There's nothing like the presence of 27 National Hockey League general managers in the same Las Vegas meeting room, to stoke the rumor mill. A trio of general managers who are currently coaching their own teams (New Jersey's Lou Lamoriello, Montreal's Bob Gainey and Calgary's Darryl Sutter) had to give the meetings a pass, but for the rest, the semi-annual get-together was the perfect time to talk trade — trades that could happen before Friday's Olympic roster freeze and trades that could happen when play resumes again, following the Feb. 26 gold-medal game.
read on

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Foppa Flops In Practice

from the AP via Yahoo,

Forsberg, the Flyers' leading scorer, left practice early on Tuesday because of tightness in his injured left groin. The former NHL MVP was hoping to play against the New York Islanders on Wednesday after missing the last five games and seven of the previous nine. "It's a little step back," Forsberg said. "I didn't want to stay out there and re-injure it. It was getting worse during practice and I didn't want to take any chances. It's very frustrating. It's bad timing."

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Tocchet Tied To Gambling Ring

from the AP via WCBSTV,

New Jersey authorities said Tuesday they had busted a nationwide sports gambling ring financed by an NHL coach and run in part by a state police trooper. Phoenix Coyotes associate coach Rick Tocchet was served with a criminal complaint Monday evening and was expected to travel from his Arizona home to answer charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy, said state police Col. Rick Fuentes.
more update 2:02pm, from the AP via TSN,
Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet is accused of financing a nationwide sports gambling ring in which about a dozen current NHL players placed bets, authorities said Tuesday.
more update 2:12pm, via 6ABC,
Action News has learned that the ring could also be linked to Janet Jones - who is the wife of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, and the ring could be tied to the crime family of Bruno Scarfo.
update 2:24pm, fyi, from the old CBA, 'Gambling on any National Hockey League game is prohibited'. No mention of any other sports. update 2:36pm, ESPN News reporting 6 current NHL players involved. update 2:52pm, from the AP via the Philadelphia Inquirer, Over the course of the investigation, state police found wagers placed by about half a dozen current NHL players and from someone Fuentes described as a "movie celebrity," all of whom have been interviewed as part of the investigation. Fuentes did not disclose their names, saying the investigation was ongoing. update 3:10pm, from the AP via the Arizona Republic, Tocchet held a brief news conference Tuesday at Glendale Arena to address the situation. “I got a summons the other day about (it),” he said. “It’s not a hockey-related issue, it’s a football thing. And at this time I can’t comment any further.” Tocchet said he would cooperate with the investigation and had no comment when asked whether he’d turn himself in to authorities. “I feel bad for the Coyotes and stuff like that, but like I said it’s a non-hockey-related issue. And that’s all I can comment.” Tocchet does have a lawyer. Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said Tocchet would be on the bench tonight and that it would be “business as usual.” “Everyone in the world is innocent until proven guilty,” Gretzky said. “He’s a great guy and a good friend. He’s just going through a tough time right now, obviously, and we’ve got to let it run its course. “It’s a situation that’s obviously a concern for the organization at this point.” update 3:33pm note: A new posting thread has been created if you wish to follow along.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com


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