Posted: Wednesday February 8, 2006 2:16PM; Updated: Wednesday February 8, 2006 9:41PM
NHL vice-president Bill Daly issued an appropriately somber statement that raised the issues of "poor judgment" and "alleged inappropriate conduct," but the league historically has been less than zealous in rooting out gambling. The old Section 2 of the standard club rules prohibited gambling on NHL games, with fines of $250 for the first offense and an additional $500 for any further violations. As a deterrent, it's barely tip money. No, not that kind of tip.
This is the biggest crisis of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman's tenure. He can't allow this to fester.
If Bettman hasn't heard all the stories -- the heavy-gambling European star, the former all-star winger of whom it jokingly was said that he would bet on which leaf would fall off the tree first while waiting for the team bus in October -- then the commissioner, or the people who work for him, have been covering their ears.
In the wake of the police probe, Bettman has to disassociate the league and its teams from lotteries that are popular in western Canada, find a solution to the Pittsburgh Penguins' future that does not involve casino slot licenses and work vigilantly, in conjunction with the Players Association, to root out any problem among the players.
He has enough trouble getting his league on the front of the sports sections after the lockout. The last thing he needs is the NHL leading the police blotter.