NHL may ban 'em, if guilty

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Rick Tocchet or any National Hockey League employee who might be entangled in the current gambling scandal, could be banned from the game for life.

"There are maximum fines, but personnel can receive permanent suspension," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly wrote yesterday in an e-mail, "for conduct deemed to be 'dishonourable, prejudicial to or against the welfare of the league or the game of hockey'."

For now, none of the six to 12 NHLers mentioned in connection to Tocchet and the alledged betting ring have been named, though rumours of their identity are rampant. WPVI, a Philadelphia ABC-TV affiliate, named ex-Flyer Mark Recchi on its website on Tuesday afternoon, then apologized and retracted it yesterday when a lawyer for the Pittsburgh Penguins' forward contacted them.

Jeremy Roenick of the Los Angeles Kings, who admitted he once bet heavily on pro sports other than hockey, has also said he is not involved. As to any request from American officials that the RCMP look at the activities of players on the six Canadian teams, Lt. Gerald Lewis of the New Jersey State Police said that step had not been taken.

When state police made their announcement of charges on Tuesday, the gambling ring was said to have a history going back five years. That would have covered the past two seasons Tocchet played in the NHL, but Lewis said any question of him influencing games as a player was "pure speculation" at present.

Lewis would not comment on the timing of the charges, coming right after the Super Bowl when betting would be at its peak across the continent. Police did claim they tracked about $1.7 million US in wagers through a 40-day period through Operation Slap Shot.


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