We remember Rick Tocchet as a tough and versatile player who was not afraid to drop the gloves when it meant to protecting teammates. Now he'll have to fight for staying on the good side of the NHL.
In February 2006, Burlington County authorities in southern New Jersey uncovered an illegal sports gambling dubbed as "Operation Slap Shot". At one point during the late stages of the investigation after it became public, Tocchet's hockey boss Wayne Gretzky and his wife Janet were questioned and that had the hockey world talking. The Gretzkys were not involved, but Tocchet was.
After a plea agreement was reached, Tocchet was sentenced this morning at a Mount Holly, New Jersey courtroom to two years probation for third degree conspiracy and third degree promotion of gambling. Since this is his first offense, he will likely not serve any jail time.
New Jersey state trooper James Harney was sentenced earlier this month to five years in prison for his role in the gambling ring and James Ulmer as a third man involved in this case will be sentenced on August 24th.
Tocchet has been on indefinite leave from his last NHL job as an assistant coach under Wayne Gretzky with the Phoenix Coyotes. At this point, it has not been determined if the team and the league will allow him to return to that job. One question I do have is whether Tocchet will be a distraction to the Coyotes if he is allowed to return. That will be something that team management will have to decide.