Gretzky Vegas regular
PAT HICKEY, The Gazette
Published: Tuesday, February 14, 2006
A woman friend of mine thought it was a little strange when Wayne Gretzky described his wife, actress Janet Jones, as his best friend.
But the more we learn about Jones, the more we realize that she's not just a pretty face, not just the gorgeous body that emerged from a swimming pool to make the Flamingo Kid a movie to remember.
Think about it. On Sunday night in your house, you have to watch the football game in the basement because your wife is watching Desperate Housewives in HD.
Not in the Gretzky household. Janet watches the game, and while she's guessing on the coin toss, she can tell you why the Steelers are going to cover the spread.
And football isn't her only passion.
Norm Clarke, who writes for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, said Jones enjoys playing blackjack for $1,000 a hand.
And while Wayne Gretzky has denied betting on sports, a Vegas insider said Gretzky has dropped more than $2 million in the Nevada city, where gambling is legal.
The head coach of the Phoenix Coyotes has a credit line that allows him to bet up to $25,000 a hand, but reportedly plays well below that level. At that, Gretzky would have a $1-million credit line and would be entitled to free rooms and VIP treatment.
Sources say NBA great Michael Jordan, who is well known as a big-time gambler, has a $2-million credit line in Vegas.
Gretzky's wife normally plays at the $1,000-a-hand level, a source said. Wayne and Janet usually play blackjack. The couple often plays in the MGM Grand Mansion, where guests must risk $250,000 over two or three days to stay in the high-roller suites.
Tocchet no stranger to controversy: This might not be the first time Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet, who is alleged to have financed a gambling ring whose clients included National Hockey League players, Jones and other celebrities, has been mentioned in a gambling probe.
The New York Daily News reports that Tocchet's name came up during a 1990 probe into the actiivities of the Genovese crime family. No charges were filed against Tocchet at the time.
Isles eyed Tocchet: The betting scandal involving Tocchet could have been even more embarrassing for the National Hockey League if Tocchet had been a head coach when the news broke last week.
It almost happened. After Mike Milbury fired Steve Stirling as the New York Islanders coach, he put together a list of candidates for the job and Tocchet and fellow Phoenix Coyotes assistant Barry Smith were near the top.
Before Milbury could offer Tocchet the job, team owner Charles Wang decided to go in another direction. He kicked Milbury upstairs. The initial speculation was that the Isles would wait for Brent Sutter to return to Long Island as coach and general manager.
It now appears that if Sutter goes to the NHL, he'll join brother Darryl in Calgary. Dean Lombardi , the former San Jose GM, is the current favourite for Milbury's job and he'll pick the new coach.
Stormy weather: That storm that hit the eastern United States on the weekend delayed the departure of nine members of the U.S. men's hockey team.
Protesters send mixed message: Several Olympic venues have been the target of protesters opposed to multinational Olympic sponsor Coca Cola. But, one Turin official said it was difficult to take the protesters seriously, because many of them wearing Nike shoes.
She said it: "I'm telling you, all my friends say I have to get right back on the bike - and I keep saying, maybe not a bike."
- Singer Sheryl Crow, talking about her breakup with Tour de France king Lance Armstrong.
Â© The Gazette (Montreal) 2006