Bettman, Tocchet were scheduled to meet earlier this week

Updated: November 1, 2007, 10:25 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

Will former Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet be allowed to return to the NHL? He may find out the answer today.

The NHL announced Thursday morning that commissioner Gary Bettman will "present his determination regarding Mr. Tocchet's NHL status" at a 1 p.m. ET news conference in New York.

Tocchet, who was expected to meet with Bettman earlier this week, has been on "leave" since allegations surfaced in February 2006 that he was part of an illegal betting ring while with the Coyotes.

The league added that former federal prosecutor Bob Cleary, who headed an independent NHL investigation into the Tocchet gambling scandal, will also reveal his findings.

New Jersey authorities who laid gambling-related charges against Tocchet, and the two men they said participated in the illegal betting ring with Tocchet, have said there was no evidence Tocchet was involved in betting or taking bets on hockey games.

Cleary reinforced the belief that Tocchet's actions were focused mostly on football bets and involvement among other NHL players or team officials was extremely limited.

Tocchet, who played 1,144 regular-season games and 145 postseason contests in the NHL, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and promoting gambling and was sentenced to two years of probation last May.

Tocchet was soon after participating in the start of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, prompting many to suggest that his inability to distance himself from gambling was going to be an obstacle in returning to the game.

Tocchet's gambling habits were likely among the topics for discussion when he and Bettman met. Phoenix GM Don Maloney was also expected to be on hand for the meeting, although his exact role was unknown.

Coach Wayne Gretzky, who brought Tocchet onto his coaching staff when Gretzky took over the reins after the lockout, is believed to want Tocchet back on staff. In an interview with ESPN.com in the first months of the 2005-06 season, Gretzky praised Tocchet's edge and his ability to get the most out of players.

The case became one of the biggest stories in hockey last year, when Tocchet, former state trooper James Harney and James Ulmer were charged, because authorities said several of the bettors were people connected to the game.

The only name that was ever revealed among them was actress-model Janet Jones Gretzky, who is married to Gretzky, and authorities said early on that neither she nor other bettors would be charged.

Jones threatened to file a $50 million defamation lawsuit against the state of New Jersey but has not done so.

Information from ESPN.com's NHL writer Scott Burnside and The Associated Press was used in this report.