SportsProf

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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Just When You Thought Things Were Getting Better. . .

Now the NHL has this scandal to deal with.

A gambling ring.

I heard about it on the way home from work and then went to the #1 blog for ice hockey news, Off-Wing Opinion, for the scoop. If you're interested in following this story, Off-Wing is the place to do so.

The synopsis is that one-time NHL star Rick Tocchet (who played for the Flyers and Penguins, among others) is charged with bankrolling a significant East Coast gambling ring that has ties to organized crime. Those familiar with investigations know that the investigators keep on turning over rocks until there are no more to turn over, and, as Off-Wing's report indicates, more names may surface as the investigators keep looking.

The tie to organized crime is interesting, because implicated in one of the reports is the old Scarfo crime family in Philadelphia. I recall at one point in the 90's a member of that family was seen at Flyers' games, and that led to a controversial report about the alleged friendship between a member of that family and a Flyer on the leading sports-talk radio stationin town that led to a defamation suit that led to a settlement and an apology and the termination of a talk-show host (that is, the termination of his employment). I wonder, in the midst of all this, whether that story will surface again, if for no other reason to examine how the foundation of the alleged relationship between Tocchet and that crime family surfaced. Hopefully, the for the NHL's sake, there's nothing to it.

Professional hockey doesn't need this right now, although the surfacing of this scandal comes on the eve of the Olympics, during which time the NHL will take a break and international hockey will take over. The NHL will benefit from its absence (from whatever airwaves that still consistently carry it), at least for a short while, but my guess is that the public scrutiny of this matter will intensify in the ensuing weeks.

Once again, it looks like reality will eclipse reality TV.

At least for a while.

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