Pittsburgh Penguins Mark Recchi and John LeClair made it clear Wednesday night that they have no connection to a recent gambling investigation involving Rick Tocchet and possibly more NHL players.
The two Penguins have retained an attorney, Bob Del Greco, to defend their innocence and stop the media from publishing/airing rumors connecting them to Operation Slapshot which have been circulating in recent days.
Del Greco, Recchi and LeClair held a press conference following the Penguins’ 3-1 loss to Boston at Mellon Arena. Del Greco read a prepared statement and addressed questions.
“Let me make it perfectly clear on this issue. Mark Recchi and John LeClair categorically deny any wrongdoing and are outraged that their names have been associated with the Operation Slapshot investigation,” Del Greco said. “While each has maintained a personal and business relationship with their friend and former teammate, Rick Tocchet, neither have any involvement whatsoever in any gambling operation. My hope is that as a result of this news conference, that can be put to bed and those who are involved and who are pursued can be pursued and the media can report on them.”
Reports of links to the gambling investigation began circulating earlier in the week.
“On [Tuesday], Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia reported on their Web site a story about a gambling operation allegedly financed by an NHL coach and the quote was, ‘the gambling ring could linked to former Philadelphia Flyer Mark Recchi,’” Del Greco said. “In its 7:10 p.m. national program, ESPN reported that same quote. I demanded a retraction from this erroneous report. An investigation ensued that resulted in a ‘profound apology’ as well as a retraction from Channel 6 Action News in Philadelphia. It was further learned that, according to their investigation and according to law enforcement officers, Mr. Recchi was not someone connected to a sports gambling investigation called Operation Slapshot. Subsequently, other news media individuals repeated this information and even included John LeClair as being ‘implicated’ in this Slapshot investigation.
“These individuals contacted me and I was able to quash some of the misinformation. Some of it still exists – mainly in the Delaware/Philadelphia/New Jersey area. Because of the continuing nature of these falsehoods, we’ve determined that we’re going to take a proactive approach and, consequently, we’re here for this news conference.
“Channel 6 Action News, to their credit, did some investigation because, frankly, these individuals were outraged as was I, and they reported specifically to me that they learned according to law enforcement sources that Mr. Recchi was not someone connected to a sports gambling investigation. I don’t mean to exclude Mr. LeClair, but at that time, he wasn’t even mentioned. It was only an outfit in Delaware that saw it fit to also include him, probably because of the Flyer connection.”
Recchi, LeClair and Tocchet all played together with the Philadelphia Flyers from 2000-2002.
“I have a suspicion and I frankly think that Mark’s name was confused with a name of another player and, having criticized individuals for erroneously giving information regarding Mark, I don’t want to throw that name out,” Del Greco said. “I think it was as simple as a misidentification or a mix-up between a name. Then, you have the Flyer connection and he and Rick are former teammates and partners in a business adventure and I think someone put that all together and ran with it erroneously.
“This is circulating to an extent that I thought it would be better to be preemptive about it and make sure it was understood that there was no credible evidence which would suggest that either of these individuals are involved in [Operation] Slapshot.”