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The Great Stun
2006-02-09 21:35
by Mike Carminati

This is how lame hockey has gotten: the country that invented it lost to a country that doesn't care about it, in a state that has NO natural ice!
— Lewis Black on the Daily Show after the 2003 Stanley Cup finals

As the greatest player to ever play hockey, Wayne Gretzky, gets sucked down into the sinkhole that is the Rick Tocchet gambling scandal, I am left trying to plumb its depths.

Who was involved? Did Gretzky bet through his wife? What about other hockey personnel? And doesn't using Gretzky wife make a) The Great One seem like a big wussy and b) make the scandal even worse because of the cover-up? It also makes him seem more culpable or at least creates the impression that he knew he was doing something wrong.

And what will be the fallout? It seems that there were some illegal activities that at the very least Tocchet was involved. If Gretzky did bet through his wife, what are the legal ramifications?

Of course, the legal fallout has more of an immediate affect on the lives of the people involved, but what happens in the hockey realm? Do they get suspended and/or banned? How does this affect Gretzky's legacy? Will he become hockey's Pete Rose? And remember Rose and Joe Jackson were big names, but they weren't the best to ever play their sport.

The big question as far as the sports world is concerned is whether they bet on hockey. If all their bets were on the coin toss at the Super Bowl and such, then hockey can really only suspend them for unbecoming behavior, right? Or maybe trafficking with gamblers and other unsavory characters.

If there were hockey bets, then one would expect the men involved would be suspended for life and possibly banned from the Hall of Fame, not like Tocchet had to worry about it.

Right now, it seems there are more questions than facts, but it doesn't look good.

However, unless they straighten out the details, I don't think that it can unseat steroid use in baseball as the scandal of choice in sports today. The hurdle that no one cares about hockey outweighs the headlines that Gretzky's name will garner, in my opinion.

All in all, however, hockey seems to be in the death throes as one of the four major sports. It may already lag behind golf and tennis and now they say bowling is coming into vogue again. And there is always poker and so doku to contend with.

Remember when hockey was the hot sport after the rollerblading craze of the early Nineties? And Gary Bettman was supposed to be the next David Stern? Then team USA took a quick exit in the Olympics right before completely trashing their hotel in a nice show of bad sportsmanship. It's star then dimmed a bit. Next there was the strike last season. Now this. And I thought the lords of baseball were screwing up their sport?!?

2006-02-10 05:43:17
1.   markh
It was a lockout last year, not a strike. I'm just sayin'.
2006-02-10 10:50:32
2.   ChuckM
What exactly is worse for hockey at this point-the fact there is a gambling scandal involving the Great One or that the casual fan doesn't even care? Word is they got Gretzky on tape talking about gambling. This is definitely gonna get worse before it gets better. Where's Bob Probert to deflect some attention when you need him?
2006-02-10 11:48:49
3.   Mike Carminati
He's on the Probert Report, I think.
2006-02-10 15:17:14
4.   De Ruijter
Before Gretzky gets lumped in with Jackson and Rose, shouldn't it be alleged (and proven) that he (through his wife) bet on hockey, especially his own team's games? If the extent of this is that Wayne used his wife to place a bet on who'd win the Super Bowl coin toss, that's way below what Rose and Jackson did.

Still, there's lots of comedy to be had in the Great One stumbling through this mess.

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