The New Jersey-based sports-betting ring ran by retired NHL All-Star forward Rick Tocchet wrote its final chapter 10 years ago this month when Tocchet pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and promoting gambling in May 2007. The 53-year old was spared federal prison time in an FBI investigation dubbed Operation Slap Shot and did two years of probation instead. Serving a brief suspension levied by the NHL, within a year of Tocchet’s plea deal being signed, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman reinstated the popular former right-winger.

Following his retirement and entrance into the league’s coaching ranks, Tocchet began booking bets on football for a clientele consisting of mostly pro hockey personnel. According to sources, Tocchet’s sports book had ties to the mafia in Philadelphia and New Jersey and paid a street tax to a Bruno-Scarfo crime family crew belonging to one-time underboss Joe (Mousie) Massimino, also using the Massimino crew as a layoff bank for heavy action.

The Bruno-Scarfo syndicate controls mob affairs in the greater Philadelphia area and parts of New Jersey. Links between Tocchet’s bookmaking and the mafia were never confirmed.

“Ricky the Rocket” Tocchet played 18 seasons in the NHL, 11 of them spent with the Philadelphia Flyers, and won a Stanley Cup in 1992 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Over his near-two decades in the league, he was selected to four NHL All-Star Games (1989, 1990, 1991, 1993). He hung up his skates in 2002 and took an assistant coaching job with the Colorado Avalanche. When he was arrested in 2006, he was an assistant for the Phoenix Coyotes. Currently, he’s on the bench as an assistant with the Penguins.

Tocchet partnered with a New Jersey State Police officer named Jim Harney in his sports book operation. Harney cooperated with authorities against Tocchet, who at first vehemently denied the allegations, filing defamation law suits to refute the charges. In the weeks surrounding the 2006 Super Bowl alone, Tocchet and Harney took almost $2,000,000 in wagers.

Rick Tocchet is in his playing days with the Flyers

Wayne Gretzky, the greatest hockey player of all-time and Tocchet’s boss when he was arrested in 2006 – Gretzky was the Coyotes head coach, general manager and part owner – was heard on an FBI wiretap talking about his wife’s gambling debts and how he could keep her name out of the looming inquiry into Tocchet’s bookmaking activities. Gretzky is married to 1980s-era actress Janet Jones.

Per the investigation, Jones had placed roughly $500,000 worth of bets with Tocchet. Retired NHL players Jeremy Roenick and Travis Green were also implicated as frequent clients of Tocchet’s sports book. Roenick was a nine-time NHL All-Star and one of the best American-born players in pro hockey history. Green, a journeyman in the league throughout the 1990s and 2000s and a well-known poker ace, is the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks today.

The mob figure Tocchet and Harney’s book was allegedly paying protection to, Mousie Massimino, is a formidable presence in east coast mob circles. Massimino, 67, is in the middle of serving a 15-year prison sentence for a federal racketeering conviction from 2013.

A grizzled, mustachioed and wisecracking wiseguy with deep connections in both South Philly and North Jersey gangland circles and a rap sheet that includes dozens of arrests and run-ins with the law, Massimino rose to the No. 2 spot in the whole crime family under acting boss Joseph (Uncle Joe) Ligambi. Mousie’s son and 46-year old namesake, Joe Massimino, Jr., was recently arrested on a variety of narcotics offenses.

“Mousie” Massimino

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