According to a Fox Sports report, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Marty Turco wagered money with a Montreal Canadiens fan during Tuesday’s game between the two teams. If true, Turco could be in some trouble with the NHL.
A fan called into the Canadian radio station Team 990 to recount his tale. Identifying himself only as Robert, the Canadiens season ticket holder claimed he was sitting near the Blackhawks’ bench and ribbing Turco during the first period. When the Canadiens scored the first goal of the game in the second period, he offered to bet Turco $5 that the Blackhawks would not score a tying goal.
Turco accepted the bet, and less than four minutes later, Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane tied the game at 1-1. Robert handed $5 over to Turco, writing “Habs Rule” on the bill.
As the game wore on, the two continued to bet, When the game went into overtime, Robert claimed to have offered Turco 5 to 1 odds on the Canadiens winning the game. Turco again accepted, only this time Robert won the wager.
Allegedly, Turco handed cash to the fan, including the original $5 bill with “Habs Rule” crossed out and “Turco Rules” written in its place.
This incident, if true, raises a couple of questions.
For one, where does a back-up goalie stash cash in his uniform? And for what reason?
More importantly, how often do NHL players wager on games? Granted, this sort of behavior appears very harmless on the surface, and bets like these take place between fans in every arena throughout the U.S. and Canada every night.
Yet while this may be the first time a NHL player may have been caught wagering during a game, it is not an isolated incidence. In the NBA, this has occurred on a few known occasions. Perhaps the most famous was a bet in 1990 between Charles Barkley and Mark Jackson during the waning moments of a Philadelphia 76ers-New York Knicks game which raised the ire of NBA Commissioner David Stern.
More recently, Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks bet Boston Celtics Paul Pierce $10,000 that the Celtics wouldn’t sweep the Hawks in the 2008 playoffs. The story came to light because Horford complained in an interview that Pierce still owed him the money as the Hawks weren’t swept.
The NHL also has a tradition of placing money “on the board.” Not actually a bet, but this is money usually offered by a player, coach, or team to fellow teammates for winning big rivalry games or other items of note for a team. Some have considered this money a “bounty” on other players, as its rumored to be awarded for big hits on certain players.
But on-the-board money is only offered behind the locker room doors, not out in the open as Turco’s bet with a fan appeared to be.
How will NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman react? It will be interesting to see if punishment is swift and severe as the NHL can ill afford such negative publicity.