September 23 2012 07:50AM
Back when the NHL played in arenas across North America, we could talk about games and statistics and trades and things. Nowadays, the subject involves lockouts and buildings, and "hockey" talk has given way to business and empre building. This week, a couple of missteps at least gave us something else to discuss.
This is one of my favorite books. In it, Jimmy Devellano painstakingly details the errors he made while representing the Detroit Red Wings as General Manager. He also reveals how Mike Illitch--the owner--at some point decided to move Jimmy D as far from the levers of power as possible. He FURTHER explains how Illitch did it, without ever giving the reader the impression that he--Devellano--saw it happening to him, then or now. Devellano and Illitch formed a relationship and stuck by it, and succeeded the moment Illitch started bringing people in to handle things like procurement and coaching decisions.
Devellano is a delight for fans, because--at 69--he's reached a point in his life where 'filter' is a part of his car. Jimmy D says what he thinks, and this week he lightened the Illitch pocketbook with two grand quotes. Lets take them one at a time.
- Jimmy D:“The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there. That’s the way it’s always been, and that(’s) the way it will be forever. And the owners simply aren’t going to let a union push them around. It’s not going to happen.”
The great thing about Devellano here is that you know he isn't being a sinister dick, he's just stating the facts as he sees them. It's a wonderful look into the 30-man gentlemen's club that is NHL ownership and their entourages. It is also a major tell about where this season is headed--down the toilet. The NHL owners know that the NHL players have no desire to lose a season and are acting in kind. In a negotiation, indifference to the outcome is the gold standard for positioning. NHL owners have reached that point and may have talked themselves into another lost season with little input from the players. Hey, who's to know what 30 quirky rich guys can come up with in 7 years?
- Jimmy D: “There is a hard cap in place as we all know. You can’t go over that .... period. If Weber gets this much, then another player gets less. Now does that mean it’s right for another team to do that? My answer is this: They (the Flyers) operated within the CBA and it’s totally legit to do. Having said that, I will tell you there is an unwritten rule that you don’t do that, but they did, and just like everything else in life, some people are great to deal with, some aren’t.
This is Devellano discussing the Weber deal and he's probably a little sour grapes on the entire summer (his ranch didn't get Suter or Weber, meaning a bad winter for all the cattle). The problem is that he's made public what everyone knew but couldn't prove--NHL teams don't use offer sheets because of a gentlemen's agreement. Now, I'm not smart enough to get that quote and build a thread from it to collusion, but you know who is? Donald Fehr.
Anyway, Jimmy Devellano is more entertaining that the owners and God love him for running his mouth this week.
MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH
The Edmonton Oilers official twitter had this up last night:
I know it's just a retweet, and I've generally stayed out of this debate, but "loss of nhl club" on their timeline is a bad idea from here. Old timers like myself know all about being threatened, and there's some sensitivity at this point in time. I don't believe for a second the Oilers are leaving town and don't think Daryl Katz is manning the retweet button on a Saturday night,
Still, I think the Oilers would be wise to avoid doing this for the near future. Just my two cents.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
The NHL is forcing us to find our own entertainment. Quick--can you think of anything?