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Mrs. Gretzky Strikes Back at the Media

Apr 4, 2007 – 1:06 PM
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Eric McErlain

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Wayne Gretzky and wife Janet at 2006 ESPYs.It's been a little more than a year since the New Jersey State Police broke the news about "Operation Slap Shot," an internal investigation of a New Jersey State Trooper involved in a gambling ring that eventually entangled Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky, his wife Janet and his assistant coach, Rick Tocchet.

Now that the media heat is off, Gretzky's wife, the former Janet Jones, is talking about the strain that the investigation and the ensuing media frenzy put on her marriage and her family. From the Globe and Mail:
"It's unfair that Wayne and I have had a great marriage for 20 years and a nice family, and the people in the media could care less if they are trying to cause friction in your marriage, trouble in your family, and make your kids feel a certain way," she told Chatelaine in a story published in the May issue.

"That was a little hurtful because it was like, 'Why? What have we ever done to you?' " The couple's older children started asking questions as the stories became more and more prominent in the media. "We just explained to them that sometimes the media blows things out of proportion," the 46-year-old American told Chatelaine.
With all due respect to Mrs. Gretzky, it's not like the media had a choice. You've got the greatest hockey player who ever lived, his wife and his top assistant associated with a gambling investigation. Any reporter worth his/her salt knows that their editor would shoot them if they failed to follow up every last lead on a story like this one. And thanks to the 1919 Chicago White Sox and Pete Rose, any story that involves gambling and professional sports is going to raise questions about whether or not the outcome of a game had been influenced -- something that could very well happen even if as was the case here, the bets involved didn't have anything to do with hockey.The folks that the Gretzkys really ought to have a beef with is the New Jersey State Police. Don't forget, this was an internal investigation of a state trooper, one that went from potentially embarassing to a media bonanza for the NJSP once it was discovered that Tocchet and the Gretzkys were involved. It was the NJSP that leveraged the Gretzky connection for all it was worth, all in the hopes of obscuring the central role that was played by one of their own.

Then again, there is another point that Mrs. Gretzky could have made: Why not just legalize sports gambling, make it transparent, tax and regulate it. If you do that, you'd kill stories like this one before they even got started.
Filed under: Sports