Friday, February 10, 2006

THE GREAT SCANDAL: DENY, DENY, DENY

The question is now what does Wayne Gretzky know and when did he know it. How deep is his involvement in this cover-up. People are treating this like a Presidential scandal- except in this case it involves hockey royalty. Stories like this one in the New York Post are typical of the grilling Gretzky is getting, especially in the United States.

Lemme tell you, this is a huge story in the United States. Hockey interest is big right now anyway because the Olympics are coming up and football season has just ended, and so the lines have lit up on the sports call-in shows about this gambling business. I tuned into WFAN from New York and they were talking about this story all night on the radio. And the local press is just killing Gretzky down there. Even the Imus in the Morning Show mentioned it and were basically calling Gretzky a liar. When even Don Imus is talking about hockey and Gretzky, that says a lot. They were saying on that show that Gretzky should probably not even go to the Olympics in Turin, and of course Canadians are going to be ticked off to hear that, especially since people down there are cheering for the USA to win. But I don't think that matters to these folks down there; I don't think they're rooting to see Gretzky punted from the Games. I think they think this is a black eye for hockey, this mess, and they are right.

I notice a big difference in the press attitudes down there as opposed to up here. Here, people still see Gretzky as a hero and are treating him with kid gloves. The villain up here is Rick Tocchet, or that evil wife of his Janet Gretzky. People up here have basically hated Janet ever since she married Wayne and then got him traded to Los Angeles. They think she's gone and corrupted our innocent Wayne Gretzky with her Hollywood values and so on. So Wayne must have nothing to do with this gambling stuff, the papers here seem to be suggesting. It must be Janet's fault, "Janet Gretzky is a Shrew", etc. etc.

So in Canada Wayne is still getting off scott-free. But the press down there in the USA is suspicious. They think Gretzky's lying his head off and knows more than he's letting on, and demanding he come clean. The sportswriters down there are angry and jaded, so that's why these stories are popping up in papers down there around New York and New Jersey. Keep in mind New York is still a huge baseball town, so they are quite familiar with athletes lying to them and stomping on them all the time. They know all about players like Rafael Palmeiro saying one thing in public and getting caught doing something else in private. And they know all about Pete Rose, and they've seen big heroes from other sports, revered figures like NBA superstar Michael Jordan, who have gotten taken down a notch by their involvement in gambling.

So when they see Wayne Gretzky go on and on with his "deny deny deny" routine, and tell reporters this line of bull about how he'll never do anything to embarrass the sport of hockey or any of that, people are right to be cynical and think the worst. Heck, he got caught on wiretaps discussing these allegations with Rick Tocchet! Clearly he knows SOMETHING's up. So I don't blame these sportswriters for going nuts over this and demanding some answers from Wayne Gretzky. They're thinking he used his wife to place bets on sporting events and want direct answers instead of the usual line of bull they are getting. It wouldn't surprise me if Janet's a big sports gambler, for all I know. I don't blame the New York press for going nuts, they're doing their jobs as journalists. They really do have a right to some answers, hard answers, and Wayne Gretzky and crew sure aren't helping at the moment.

I know there are probably Canadians who think the Americans are being too tough. But keep this in mind: these people aren't anti-hockey or anti-Gretzky. Gretzky is revered in New York City. He played there as a Ranger and retired there in 1999. The fans love him, but you know, they are simply giving him the same treatment as all the other big athletes down there, the same equal treatment.

For Gretzky's sake he's got to come clean with what he knows, and his wife has got to come clean. Then maybe people can get to the bottom of this mess. Enough with the denials and the "I don't knows" already.

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