Given how Rick Tocchet is unlikely to face any jail time for his crime, he will be free and available to work, should the NHL let him.
Tocchet will, however, face the possibility of a suspension from the NHL, which would bar him from such employment. Given how NBA ref Tim Donaghy was found to have helped fix games, there is a lot of pressure for the NHL to suspend Tocchet in a bid to save face for the league.
To that, I say 'rubbish'. Let the man work, if the Coyotes want him. Does anyone outside of the media and law enforcement really care about this case? Do you care that Tocchet was organizing some sports betting among some rich folks with money to burn?
Do I think hiring Tocchet is smart? No. Would I hire Tocchet to coach my team? No. Do I find Gretzky's loyalty puzzling? Somewhat. Still, it's not my choice and doesn't affect me one iota if Tocchet is coaching in Phoenix next season.
"He's a convicted criminal, he shouldn't be allowed to work."
Oh, I see get it ... nobody with a criminal record should ever be allowed to work, huh? If Tocchet serves his punishment (via fine or jail), why should that prevent him from any employment? Even convicted criminals have the fair right to hold a vocation in our society.
"The integrity of the games is at risk"
What a crock! How, exactly, can Tocchet influence the game enough to profit as a gambler or bookie? He's an assistant coach, and holds very little power over what happens on the ice. If he was making such terrible on-ice decisions, you know Gretzky would either fire him, or the mainstream media would be all over him. The players on the ice, and the refs, hold a great deal of control over the game. An assistant coach does not.
Need I remind you that 1. nobody was gambling on NHL games in this ring, nor do they tend to in general, and 2. Tocchet, himself, never bet on any games. Tocchet profited on OTHER people betting on OTHER sports. How, then, does this affect the integrity of ye olde NHL tilt?
Now that Tocchet is under such scrutiny, do you really think he could ever get away with any activity to 'fix' a game? If he makes ONE questionable line change, you can be sure the media will be all over him like lawyers at an accident scene.
"But, what he did is immoral!"
Uh oh, here comes the Morality Police!
Although YOU may not like gambling, there are plenty of people who enjoy this activity. Who am I, or who are you, to tell people what to do with their money and time?
Really, who cares if some rich folks want to plunk down some dough on some football games? It's their money, and they have every right to gamble it, throw it away, burn it, or buy Ashlee Simpson CDs. The attitude towards sports gambling in North America is really quite silly, puritanical, and hypocritical.
"But, he broke the LAW!"
When has the NHL ever been concerned about the law? The league has gone to great lengths to tell law enforcement to butt out of its affairs. Remember the Bertuzzi incident? The NHL told the police basically to butt out and that "We'll handle our own affairs." The NHL likes to police itself, for better or worse, and doesn't seem too concerned about the criminal activities of its players (who like to drink and drive) and coaches.
How about this choice quote from the league that they penned in conjunction with all the other major professional sports leagues and the NCAA:
Sports betting is incompatible with preserving the integrity of American athletics. For many decades, we have actively enforced strong policies against sports betting.Sports betting is incompatible with what??! As if the NFL doesn't do all it can to promote gambling and have a cozy relationship with Vegas bookies. Sure, the NHL doesn't want the perception of gambling, but it would dearly love for you to put down a few bucks on the next Oilers/Thrashers tilt.
If the NHL is so anti-gambling, why does it, and the NHL clubs, actively promote lotteries? In Vancouver, one can buy Canucks scratch-and-win tickets, and bet on Canucks games through the government lottery. I don't see much outcry from the NHL over such gambling activities.
According to my FanHouse colleague, Greg Wyshynski,
"Tocchet should be formally suspended indefinitely, for a minimum of a season. Not only because he dipped his skate into a cesspool he knew could be publicly damaging for the league, but because we're in a post-Donaghy sports landscape in which a professional coach caught operating an illegal gambling ring cannot get off with a sanctioned "leave of absence."Excuse me? Tocchet should be prevented from employment simply because of what happens in another league? Should we also ban Tylenol and Sudafed because the Olympics do?
Given that Tocchet will serve his punishment, and given how little, if any, he could affect the integrity of an NHL game, why should he be made the sacrificial lamb? If the Coyotes want to hire him as an assistant coach, that is their right. Why should the NHL punish him further?