Source: Barnett bet on Super Bowl through Tocchet

Updated: February 9, 2006, 8:39 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Phoenix Coyotes GM Mike Barnett placed a Super Bowl bet with alleged illegal betting ring leader and Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet for a few hundred dollars, a source close to the team told ESPN.com Thursday.

Barnett was the agent for Wayne Gretzky, now the Coyotes' coach and part-owner, for many years before becoming the Coyotes' general manager in August 2001.

The source said Barnett was told by New Jersey investigators that he would not be subpoenaed and that they no longer consider him part of the investigation into the sports betting syndicate Tocchet is alleged to have financed.

The team's head of security, Jim O'Neal, who also met with New Jersey authorities, made a statement reiterating that Barnett does not figure in the probe into betting that undercover officers said totaled $1.7 million over a 40-day period ending after the Super Bowl in Detroit.

New Jersey State Police, though, would not confirm Thursday afternoon that Barnett is no longer considered part of the investigation.

Barnett, accordng to the source, told investigators he placed the bet with Tocchet because he knew Tocchet was known in the dressing room to be a regular bettor on football games and a regular visitor to nearby Las Vegas during team breaks.

The source said the Barnett bet was "hundreds, not thousands of dollars" on the game's over-under.

When the story broke Tuesday that Tocchet had been charged with money laundering, conspiracy and promoting gambling, Barnett immediately called NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to tell him he'd placed the wager but that it was a one-time thing, the source said.

Barnett told investigators he placed the bet because he wanted something to spice up Super Bowl Sunday, which he spent with some friends at his Phoenix-area golf club. Barnett did not watch the game with Gretzky, his close friend.

Gretzky has repeatedly said he did not bet with the ring and had no knowledge of any such group prior to Tocchet calling him late Monday. Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, has been implicated as a significant bettor with the group although Gretzky has insisted she did not place bets on his behalf. The couple was expected to provide more details on their respective roles either separately or together some time Thursday.

Scott Burnside is an NHL writer for ESPN.com.