As for Tocchet, he faces up to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines.
Later today, my FanHouse colleagues Jes Golbez and Greg Wyshynski will be taking the opposite sides of the question as to whether or not the NHL should allow Tocchet to rejoin Phoenix Coyotes head coach Wayne Gretzky behind the bench if he avoids jail time.
But whether or not you believe Tocchet should be banished from working in professional hockey, it's hard to argue against the fact that his sentencing couldn't have come at a worse time for him and his cause.For instance:
On Wednesday in a Brooklyn federal court, former NBA referee Tim Donaghy will plead guilty to placing bets on NBA games in which he officiated;
Late Tuesday night, the New York Times reported that Michael Vick is considering a guilty plea to charges he organized and ran a dogfighting ring not only to end the case, but rather to forestall another potential federal indictment that he financed a gambling operation;
And finally, behind the scenes, in a letter dated July 30, the NHL joined with all of the other major professional sports leagues and the NCAA to urge Congress to oppose the passage of H.R. 2046, legislation that would legalize online wagering on professional sports. The letter, signed on behalf of the NHL by Deputy Commissioner Bil Daly reads in part:
Sports betting is incompatible with preserving the integrity of American athletics. For many decades, we have actively enforced strong policies against sports betting. And the law on this point is consistent. Federal statutes bar sports betting, especially the 1961 Wire Act and the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. Enforcement of these laws against sports betting was also a significant motive for enacting the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA).If "sports betting is incompatible with preserving the integrity of American athletics" on July 30, then how in the world could Commissioner Bettman see his way to allowing Tocchet back into the sport on August 17 after being sentenced in a sports gambling investigation?
No matter what one might think about Tocchet and his situation, it's hard not to conclude that Bettman's hands may be tied. Stay tuned.