Here they are after a day at the spa (as if!), the morning links:
Lots and lots of stories out there surrounding Operation Slapshot, a New Jersey police gambling sting that yesterday netted Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, who was the alleged bankroller of the operation. According to authorities its customer base including Wayne Gretzky's wife Janet and a dozen current and former NHL players -- but not J.R., he said:
Los Angeles Kings forward Jeremy Roenick, who in 2004 said he had bet on sports for years but had stopped "cold turkey" after a warning from his former team, the Flyers, yesterday told the Star he was aware of the gambling investigation but insisted he has no involvement.
"I have not been contacted by anyone about this," Roenick said. "I am not a suspect."
Not Gretzky either, as he told the Arizona Republic:
"Absolutely not. I never bet. Anytime there is a spouse involved, that's what people are going to think. She's her own person. I think that had I been involved, I would have gotten a phone call. I'm pretty hard to hide."
The real smoking gun here is not who made bets or how many and on what, with other reports suggesting this involves NHLers at the ownership level as well, the investigation ongoing in five cities. It's the gambling ring's ties to organized crime. That's where this becomes a major, major scandal that's going to drag on, each name like a little drip falling on the head of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:
The probe is expected to widen, officials said, and is focusing on a number of prominent NHL players and management officials who may have placed illegal bets with the ring.
"It's huge," one official said of the investigation's scope.
State police said the New Jersey ring ran a sophisticated operation that handled bets on football and basketball. In one 40-day period, more than 1,000 wagers totaling more than $1.7 million were placed by clients nationwide, officials said.
Some gamblers placed their bets by calling Harney's cellphone while the 40-year-old uniformed trooper patrolled the New Jersey Turnpike in his police cruiser, officials said.
Investigators say that Harney is connected to the Bruno-Scarfo Philadelphia crime family, but did not elaborate. In general, people running illegal gambling operations in mob territory are expected to pay "tribute" or a portion of their proceeds, to organized crime members, law enforcement officials said.
When state troopers searched Harney's home in Marlton late Monday, they found $250,000 worth of Rolex watches and nine flat-screen televisions -- two of them in the bathroom, officials said.
Otherwise, some quick links:
Antonio Davis checks in to Raptors practice, thus ending the latest NBA soap opera.
The Pistons lose to the Hawks. I'll repeat that: The Pistons lose to the Hawks.
Beer leaguers make the NHL cry uncle.
And this from the African Cup of Nations, where Egypt and the Ivory Coast will play in Friday's final: Egyptian Mido's furious touchline demonstration upon being substituted late during the host's semifinal victory has resulted in the Spurs forward being suspended for six months. Sort of takes the shine off the victory parties, doesn't it?