MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. – Former NHL player Rick Tocchet pleaded guilty Friday to running a sports gambling ring, but might not have to serve any jail time.
Tocchet, who played for Phialdelphia, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and Phoenix in a career that spanned 22 seasons, is on leave from his job as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes. He pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to promote gambling and promoting gambling. Such offenses usually do not carry a jail sentence for first-time offenders.
The 43-year-old Tocchet is the third man to plead guilty in the case, which New Jersey authorities dubbed "Operation Slapshot." The others, including state Trooper James Harney, are expected to get jail time.
Prosecutors said in February 2006 that the ring handled $1.7 million in wagers during a 40-day stretch that began at the end of 2005 and included college football bowl games and the Super Bowl. They said there were no bets on hockey games.
Tocchet did not speak during Friday's court hearing except to answer yes or no questions. When asked by his attorney if he ever bet on professional hockey, Tocchet said "no."
"It's a huge operation and I think it exposes to people the allure of gambling, illegal gambling, in New Jersey," New Jersey Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw said outside the courthouse.
The maximum sentence for the charges Tocchet pleaded guilty to are 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Paw would not say whether prosecutors would ask for jail time for Tocchet.
Tocchet played in 1,144 regular-season games, scoring 440 goals and 952 points. He also appeared in 145 playoff games, with 52 goals and 112 points.