February 09, 2006

Great One Hoped Wife Would Skate: Wayne Gretzky lied on Tuesday when he claimed no knowledge of his wife Janet Jones' link to the gambling ring allegedly financed by Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet. A wiretap caught Gretzky discussing with Tocchet how Jones could avoid being implicated, a source told The Associated Press today.

posted by rcade to hockey at 06:02 PM - 32 comments

boy, oh boy, I sure miss Janet as an actress and that fantastic movie she was in with Mitch Gaylord.. I hope she launches a comeback from the minimum security prison she is sure to live in soon..

posted by JohnRodder at 06:17 PM on February 09

More of the usual when confronting an athlete with his supposed transgressions. Lie first, then, when evidence is thrown in your face to the contrary, make up a stupid story (lie) to cover up your first lie. Whether it's steroids or gambling or anything else, you just can't believe anything coming out of these guys' mouths. It's also pretty great how the story mentions Gretzky not attending the team's practice. Hell of a coaching staff the Coyotes have. No wonder they're in last place. Tocchet spends more time on booking bets than coaching his shitty team.

posted by dyams at 06:18 PM on February 09

This story makes no sense. It indicates that the wiretap caught Gretzky discussing how to avoid his wife being implicated, which implies that the details of the investigation had already been released. Otherwise, how would he even know that there was any problem for his wife to be implicated in. It sounds like the investigation was released; the wiretaps continued; and Gretzky got caught trying to see how to get his wife out of it. The story says the wiretap was made in the last month. Could it be the last few days and therefore Gretzky was correct in saying he had no knowledge until the investigation was made public? Also, why are the prosecutors and attorney general allowed to spew information all over the media about an ongoing investigation? Why don't they just do their job and then prove their case, instead of seeing how they can get publicity and character-assassinate as many as possible prior to trial?

posted by graymatters at 06:51 PM on February 09

The investigation began in October. It seems more likely to me that Gretzky and Tocchet would learn of it from investigators, rather than learning of it first on Tuesday.

posted by rcade at 07:18 PM on February 09

Even if Gretzky had knowledge and was caught in a lie the more critical part of that is he wasn't under oath when he said he didn't know his wife was involved. He was talking to the media. There's not much the prosecutors can do to him in that case because he didn't commit perjury. All Gretzky was guilty of in this case was trying to cover up his wife in the media, which last time I checked wasn't a crime. What this will do, however, is make prosecutors MUCH more interested in how Gretzky was involved in all of this. All he did by lying was make prosecutors that much more interested in him. And yeah, I agree with the comment that Jones should've stuck with acting. Boy, what a career that was...anybody remember what in the world that movie was called she was in with Mitch Gaylord? Other than her tight outfits it wasn't much.

posted by donnnnychris at 07:51 PM on February 09

The smartest thing 99 could have done was give the usual "I'm not going to comment about this issue while there is an ongoing investigation" line. But no, he had to put in his 99 cents worth! Stupid, stupid, stupid...

posted by wingnut4life at 08:02 PM on February 09

There's not much the prosecutors can do to him in that case because he didn't commit perjury. He has criminal conspiracy or obstruction of justice charges to worry about, if the media characterization of the wiretapped conversations is accurate. Unless this is a huge act of malfeasance on the part of those New Jersey prosecutors, this is a terrible day for hockey.

posted by rcade at 08:09 PM on February 09

malfeasance pleeez dunt yooooz big werdz, mmmmkay?

posted by wingnut4life at 08:15 PM on February 09

If the story is true, can you blame Gretzky for trying to protect his wife? I think the vast majority of us would have done the same. The story only states that Gretzky inquired as to options of having his wife avoid being implicated. Is that really so bad? Also, with all of the money Gretzky has, why in the world would his wife even need to gamble? And now hindsight being 20 20, why not do it legally via Las Vegas? Oh well, good thing the Great One has the money to buy the best defense attorney for his wife. He will need a good one now.

posted by panteeze at 08:23 PM on February 09

rcade...unless he was specifically talking about destroying evidence or covering things up on those wiretaps then he doesn't have to worry about conspiracy or obstruction charges. It all depends on what the Great One was talking about on the wiretaps. If he was merely talking about how his wife could get out of it, with no specific plans to physically cover anything up, then prosecutors would have a hard time making charges stick. Besides, if he's talking to his wife on the wiretaps then spousal privilege applies, so he can tell her whatever he wants and it's inadmissable. The problem Gretzky is going to have is now prosecutors are going to be wondering just how much he knew and when. Unfortunately, that's what all of this has opened up for him. They are gonna dig and dig hard to see if he's connected in any way to all of this. Also, what this does do is put a big ol' fat ugly stain on the game of hockey when it really doesn't need it. Just when the league was gaining some steam in its comeback year this has to happen. Oh well, I guess even the greatest ones have to stumble every once in a while...or at least their spouses do. Also, with all of the money Gretzky has, why in the world would his wife even need to gamble? And now hindsight being 20 20, why not do it legally via Las Vegas? panteeze, having money hardly means someone doesn't need to gamble. It's actually the opposite effect. Because she had money she was able to gamble without worrying about losing. That's why most high-rollers are filthy rich, like the Gretzkys are. They can afford to lose. I mean, check the bankrolls of some well-known sports world gamblers: Michael Jordan, Phil Mickelson, Dennis Rodman, etc...all loaded beyond belief, all big-time gamblers. Gretzky's wife actually made her mistake doing what you alluded to in the second part of your statement. She bet through an illegal ring. There is no hindsight needed, she SHOULD have went to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. You don't even have to go there personally, you can place your bet electronically or by phone. Sheesh, she obviously missed that part of common-sense school I guess.

posted by donnnnychris at 08:37 PM on February 09

I think the important question is whether Dubya got approval from the FISA court to do these wiretaps- if it's found that he didn't, any evidence collected could be suppressed.... Seriously though, panteeze has a good point- if these guys wanted to bet on football or basketball, why not just go to Vegas (or better yet, an online casino like www.jaromirjagr.com ) instead of funneling bets through the Tocchet crime syndicate? Kind of like someone bootlegging alchohol in the POST prohibition era.. This whole thing smells really weird to me...

posted by don-peyote at 08:51 PM on February 09

Ok, now I really laughed out loud on that one don-peyote...good ol' Dubya gets blamed for everything (and rightly so)...and I agree with you, why bet illegally when there's so many outlets to do it legally? Doesn't make any sense at all. Which brings me to my next thought: Doesn't anybody else think that gambling not being legal everywhere in the U.S. is kind of silly? If you did a survey of America and asked whether gambling should be legal I would guess that a large majority would answer yes. It's like the War on Drugs, the government can fight it all they want but it ain't goin' away...same for gambling.

posted by donnnnychris at 09:02 PM on February 09

I don't understand how wayne "didn't know", thousands of dollars dissapearing from accounts. "She bet through an illegal ring" isn't she one of the ones that was running it? I am confused man, all i know is that wayne opened up a can of worms, and now everything's gonna come out. Hockey didn't need this crap.

posted by chuy at 09:18 PM on February 09

Like I said, this whole thing sounds really fishy- I wouldn't be surprised to find out that the entire investigation was a set up that would be used to gain American and Canadian support for military action against Iran...

posted by don-peyote at 09:26 PM on February 09

don-peyote must have smoked some of his namesake. When the press in this country and Canada get bored after the Super Bowl, they try inventing things to kill others, or use non-usable testimony to incriminate some other poor asshole. It's really too bad that these papers don't publish real news, just B.S. Just where do you get any action against Iran out of a football betting ring, peyote?

posted by mrhockey at 09:44 PM on February 09

Mrhockey- From the dictionary- look under 'satire'... it says, 'A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.' ...Jeez, what are they teaching kids in English classes these days?

posted by don-peyote at 09:58 PM on February 09

Mrhockey- From the dictionary- look under 'satire'... it says, 'A literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.' ...Jeez, what are they teaching kids in English classes these days? Laughing my ass off. Ssssssssssssuuuuuuuuuppppppppppp!!!!! Ahh that's better. Anyone else want a hit? I don't want to be accused of being a bogart.

posted by commander cody at 10:11 PM on February 09

Interestingly, this recent bit of evidence seems to (in a backhanded way) suggest that Wayne Gretzky didn't participate in the illegal betting himself. If he was involved, you'd think he'd say (in the wiretapped conversations) how he could avoid being implicated in the gambling scandal. Instead, it was more about how his wife could avoid getting caught up in the investigation. The fact that he knew the gambling ring existed is bad, but it's definitely not as horrific as everyone wants to make it out to be. Like I said before, he should be punished, but it should be symbolic more than punitive. Side note: Gretzky does seem to attract the wrong kind of friends. First it was Bruce McNall, now it's Rick Tocchet.

posted by grum@work at 10:52 PM on February 09

This is ridiculous. They placed bets through a friend. No one has implicated Janet with doing anything other than making some bets. And not on hockey.They want to interview her. She has not been charged with anything. It's a fucking feeding freezy, show a little restraint. Can we WAIT until charges are laid on Wayne Gretzky for Obstruction of Justice, before we insinuate that this is the case? You know? I mean, his wife who actually seems to be involved hasn't been charged with anything. For whatever reason, the New Jersey State Police have elected to try this whole thing in public. That also smells. I mean, Sweet tap dancing Jesus they called this thing "Operation Slap Shot" for crying out loud.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 11:10 PM on February 09

You know what? The problem isn't the betting. I'd be surprised if Tocchet or Jones or whoever were stupid enough to bet on NHL games, especially in any way that they would wind up getting caught. No, the problem is that the NJ Attorney General's office is trying to nail the mafia connection here. That's where the shitstorm is. That's why this is getting so much play. Janet is not out of the woods yet, but I suspect she'll get off without serving any time. She & Wayne will both testify after being granted immunity. Rick Tocchet will be the fall guy, and how badly he gets nailed will depend on how many of his underworld connections this uncovers as well. The more mobsters this operation uncovers, the less time Tocchet will serve.

posted by chicobangs at 11:50 PM on February 09

Well, I just saw on a news report that Tocchet faces money laundering charges, which is the most damaging of the things they are trying to pin on him. Janet is not out of the woods yet, but I suspect she'll get off without serving any time. She & Wayne will both testify after being granted immunity Totally agree with you chicobangs, the Gretzkys will testify if it comes to that and get immunity. They are the small fish. The prosecutors want bigger fish, not the Gretzkys.

posted by donnnnychris at 01:12 AM on February 10

Not to mention that no one in this operation wants to find anything on Wayne. The prosecutors will of course do their job, but no one (no one) will be happy to find dirt on either Gretzky, Wayne least of all.

posted by chicobangs at 01:49 AM on February 10

The Great One will be ok as long as he did not wag his finger while he was saying he was not involved

posted by xeddie at 05:59 AM on February 10

While Wayne doesn't appear to be too involved in this, it is humorous to hear his responses. 1st his wife appears to have bet 1/2 a million dollars recently and in his first interview he pulls a Schultz, "I know Nothing. Nothing". Then a wiretap shows he knew something and now, "I'm too tired to talk." This coming from a profesional athlete. Had his opponents known this when he was playing, they would have just had reporters ask him alot of questions prior to their games against him and maybe he wouldn't have been so great.

posted by Familyman at 06:54 AM on February 10

No, the problem is that the NJ Attorney General's office is trying to nail the mafia connection here. That's where the shitstorm is. That's why this is getting so much play. Also, the NJ police involvement. If there hadn't have been a state trooper or whatever involved, do you think they'd be making such a big deal out of this?

posted by fabulon7 at 07:32 AM on February 10

I think they're making a big deal out of this because they have nothing, so they're trying to build a case in the court of public opinion... Contrary to the 'NO ONE wants to find dirt on either Gretzky' theory, I'm sure the prosecutor would find it to be a feather in his cap to be known as the guy who took down X number of celebrity athletes; That's the kind of television face time that a prosecutor can parley into a governorship very easily... Also, if you want to REALLY believe in conspiracy theories, remember that this is New Jersey, whose Devils hockey team was once referred to as a 'Mickey Mouse organization' by a certain NHL superstar....

posted by don-peyote at 07:50 AM on February 10

All these people who push to legalize gambling everywhere on pro sports crack me up. Why do you think Las Vegas never attracted a professional sports team (except briefly with Jerry Tarkanian's "Running Rebels")? It's because they don't want gambling interests infiltrating pro sports more closely than it already is. You're talking about many weak-minded, greedy athletes who will be unable to resist the pull of the professional gamblers who would be everywhere, probably approaching athletes anywhere they please because, after all, "It's legal." The minute gambling is allowed to be even more prevalant than it is today is when all professional sports go right down the drain. The same people who want Pete Rose hung in the town square say they want gambling legalized? Ridiculous.

posted by dyams at 07:56 AM on February 10

Professional gamblers already are everywhere, dyams. The idea that legalizing sports betting would open the floodgates to criminals seems a little odd to me, since we already have poker rooms, horse and dog tracks, casinos, slot machines, state-run lotteries and Internet gambling. If gambling's a bad thing, we sure have a lot of it already.

posted by rcade at 08:45 AM on February 10

Yeah. Gambling is going to happen anyway. It always has. Better that it be brought within the rubric of the law, so it can be regulated (and profited from). And gambing itself is quite legal in New Jersey. If they had nothing in this case, the last thing they would do is start dragging people's names through the mud. No, they've got something. They've already placed a mess of charges on Tocchet, so I'm guessing this investigation is at a fairly advanced stage.

posted by chicobangs at 09:14 AM on February 10

The idea that legalizing sports betting would open the floodgates to criminals seems a little odd to me I'm not concerned with "criminals," necessarily. My concern is the increased temptation athletes would have to fix games or shave points. If gambling's legal, there won't be anything at all to stop these guys from approaching or meeting with athletes, and when the possibility of games being fixed increases, the popularity of sports will be effected in a major way (at least that's my prediction).

posted by dyams at 10:18 AM on February 10

Besides, if he's talking to his wife on the wiretaps then spousal privilege applies, so he can tell her whatever he wants and it's inadmissable. "Wayne Gretzky was recorded on a wiretap talking to the alleged financier of a gambling ring, discussing how the hockey great's wife could avoid being implicated, a person with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press on Thursday." The statement about the spousal privilege is probably too broad and in this case inapplicable judging from the first paragraph of the linked story. Now, it probably went like this: they start their investigation and are interviewing people involved in the gambling operation. Someone like Tocchet, or someone close to what is going on at Gretzky's end of this whole thing gets interviewed and the Gretzkys start to shit because they see what is coming when it gets out that Janet is stupidly betting on all of this shit. Then Gretzky gets picked up on the wiretap talking to someone about how his wife can avoid implication...which we can all see now was all for naught, because here we are. I also agree with Grum that this information, so far, does seem to support that Gretzky himself was not the one betting, but that his wife was. I am surprised at the amount of information leaked so far too.

posted by chris2sy at 10:34 AM on February 10

In one respect, the illegality of gambling makes athletes more susceptible to fixing games and other cheats. If an athlete (or his wife) has been making large bets against the law, the gambling ring taking the bets has something to blackmail him about.

posted by rcade at 11:15 AM on February 10

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