Players recognize the dangers

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:59 AM ET

NHL players admit that betting in one form or another - be it taking part in sports pools, playing a game of cards among friends or gambling in casinos where it's legal to do so - is as common to people in their line of work as it is to society in general.

That said, there's a clear line that can't be crossed, according to several members of the Edmonton Oilers.

That line is wagering on the sport they play for a living.

"We've seen the harm that can be done with betting within your own sport," Michael Peca said, referring to Pete Rose's admission that he bet on baseball while managing in the big leagues.

"It gives the perception of dishonesty and a lack of integrity. I think it's something that's held true-to-form for a long time.

"It's just something that you can't do. It's not an honest thing to do."

Oiler players interviewed at Rexall Place yesterday declined comment on specifics of the case involving charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy against Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet.

There has been no evidence brought forward that NHL players have wagered on NHL games.

"Everybody gambles," said Jarret Stoll. "I don't see a problem with that. But once you get into organized crime, laundering money - if that's the case and I don't know that it is - then you're talking about a problem.

"If it's just gambling, I don't think it's that big of a deal unless it's crossing the line with the law, with the government and so forth."

Players say there's a big difference between placing a small bet among teammates on a weekly NFL pool or on a golf tournament and placing any kind of wager on hockey, be it the NHL or any other league.

"That's common sense," said Stoll. "There's Sports Select and football pools. That's gambling. Every team does it.

"It's not millions of dollars, but it's still gambling."

Peca says he's never placed a bet on hockey and doesn't know of a player who has.

"I'll play poker and I'll play blackjack, but I don't often bet on a sporting event," Peca said.

"I've never bet on football. Maybe a $20 bet with a teammate on who's going to win between Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver (boxing) or something like that.

"We'll have a draft for the Masters golf tournament or something like that, but when you're talking about placing substantial dollars on sporting events, it's something I've never done.

"I know guys who like to bet on football games and do things like that. In Las Vegas, they'll bet on big sporting events.

I've never understood it, and I've always steered clear of it."

Legal jurisdiction in NHL cities throughout Canada and the U.S. aside, NHL players are prohibited from betting on hockey under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"Everybody knows what happened to Pete Rose," defenceman Matt Greene said.

"You have to keep that as your guideline right there."


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