Another law enforcement investigator familiar with the probe said reputed Philadelphia mob underboss Anthony Staino was involved. But the mob’s role in the operation – was it extorting tribute payments, had it partnered with Tocchet and Harney to cover some of their bets, or were some of its members merely gambling? – remained unclear.
My favorite third hand story about Eric Lindros and Joey Merlino. Lindros was hanging out at Club Egypt back in the day and all the girls were ogling him. But then this skinny little Italian guy would stroll in and all the girls left Eric. So Eric is like, what’s up with that? So he goes over to Merlino and asks him who he is and why all the girls go to him when he comes in. Merlino replies, “kid, you’re on the back page, I’m on the front page.”
Like Rose, Tocchet Feeling Sting
Watching Tocchet hurl himself around the ice during his wonderful Flyers career I always figured this was the way Rose would have played hockey. Headfirst into the boards, no problem.
Rose mucked it up between the white lines. Tocchet mucked it up in the corners. Both could also play hell out of their games.
Rose was the most popular member of the best Phillies teams ever during his 5 years here. It was a no contest. Somehow, that 1979 through 1983 period seems much longer – perhaps because we never wanted it to end.
Tocchet was the most popular Flyer since the days of Bobby Clarke and the Stanley Cup champions of the 1970s. Like Rose, he represented the work ethic, courage and production that is coin of the realm to fans.
Then, the news broke that Gretzky’s assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes, Rick Tocchet, had been accused of financing an illegal betting operation, with ties to organized crime, and that Gretzky’s wife, Janet Jones, had made bets with the syndicate.
And suddenly, all that promise, all that good news, went up in an ugly puff of smoke.
State wiretaps in the unfolding NHL betting scandal caught Wayne Gretzky discussing the multimillion-dollar gambling operation run by his friend Rick Tocchet before the ring was dismantled Monday, according to law enforcement sources.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman granted Tocchet’s request for a leave of absence on the following conditions:
Tocchet will immediately cease all contact and communication with all National Hockey League NHL and Coyotes personnel for the duration of his leave of absence.
The leave of absence will not end without Bettman’s consent.
If the gambling probe stopped with Tocchet, a prominent former player and a visible figure behind the bench, it would be terrible enough. But clearly it doesn’t.