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.


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.


The NHL is forcing us to find our own entertainment. Quick–can you think of anything?

  • Max Powers - Team HME Evans

    DSF you made my point.You added in the soccer team and baseball team.
    You carve the market up even more.There are only so many dollars to go around for sports.

    I would challenge anybody to be season ticket holders for the NFL , NBA ,MLS
    College football and NHL hockey.

    The oilers are the only major league sport in town.They don’t have to compete with other sports.
    You add in the fact we are hockey mad and this market is better than any market in the states other than those who were original six.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I have to agree. There is no other market in North America except maybe Toronto or Montreal that can charge the ticket prices that Rexall charges, be sold out 2000 games in a row, all while being a last place team 17 years in a row.

      Edmonton is one of the best market in the world for hockey and any “astute” business person would have to be an idiot move.

      • DSF

        Actually, Toronto, Winnipeg and Montreal all charge more for tickets than the Oilers while Vancouver, Calgary, Philly and the Rangers are all within $5/ticket but have much larger seating capacity.

        If Seattle charged league average for tickets ($57.10) in a 19,000 seat arena, they would generate $44,480,000 in ticket revenue for a 41 game season.

        The Oilers charge an average of $70.00 in an arena that seats 16,500 or $47,355,000 for a 41 game season.

        Given that luxury box revenue, corporate sponsorships, television revenue and lower tax rates would be beneficial in Seattle, this isn’t even close.

        If Edmonton builds a new arena, they win.

        If they don’t, they lose.

        • DSF

          Um, you are assuming that Seattle will sell out every game. I don’t think you can simply assume that. we have evidence that Edmonton will sell out for a loosing team. The non traditional hockey markets don’t seem to be such a sure thing

          • DSF

            Um, you are assuming they won’t.

            I don’t think you can simply assume that.

            We have evidence that the Oilers DON’T sell out for a losing team.

            Molson half price singles are always available.

            Do you think Molson pays full price for those tickets?

            Trust me, they don’t.

          • Didn’t see many Molson Half price singles this past season. And yes, I’ll bet my new tablet Microsoft Surface that Seattle doesn’t sellout their NHL games. And no I don’t think the maple leaves or the buffalo bills will let Markham get a franchise. And yes I didn’t misspell the above.

    • DSF

      The market is huge.

      Soccer is a niche sports and draws almost 45K/game in Seattle.

      The most the Oilers can fit in Rexall is 16K.

      No problem surpassing that in Seattle when drawing from Vancouver, Seattle, Tacoma, Redmond, Olympia, Portland, etc.

      Hell, I live on Vancouver Island and can be in the arena district in Seattle in less than an hour from Victoria. It’s only 74 miles.

      That’s closer than Red Deer is to Edmonton.

      For a weekend trip, I can take the Victoria Clipper ferry, downtown to downtown, and be in Seattle in two and a half hours.

      I can take the ferry, hotel for one night in Seattle included for $136.00.

      I’m in.

      I have a Canadian business associate living in Bend, Oregon who is a huge hockey fan. His son goes to the University of Washington.

      He’s already indicated he’ll buy season’s tickets

      • DSF

        DSF, you amaze me. Commuting up and down the west coast on your nuclear powered hover craft, cheering for your Canucks and hobnobbing with your high falutin’ connections all over North America, and yet you still make time to keep us poor disadvantaged ON plebes in the know about how awful our poor benighted city is. Thank so much for taking the time out of your busy day to put us in our place. You truly deserve a public service award. Bless you, sir! May we have another?

      • Reg Dunlop

        A couple of logistic questions:

        If it is 74 miles from Victoria to Seattle, as the crow flies presumably, how do you get there in less than 1 hour? Can’t drive, ocean is in the way. Ferry takes 2.5 hours. That leaves flying. A quick look shows prices for flights ranging from $350 to $480. Doesn’t seem like a practical commute for a hockey game.

        And speaking of impractical, the last time I travelled in the pacific north-west Seattle to Bend, Oregon was about a 7 hour drive. Maybe your business associate has a really fast car that can go 350 miles in 1 hour? Regardless, it is awesome that your bud will buy season tix. Now Seattle only has to find 17,999 more people willing to shell out to watch something as familiar to them as it was to Atlanta residents. Good luck.

        As for a market like Seattle supporting an expansion team, with the liklihood that they won’t win a lot in the first 5 years, an optimistic comparable might be Vancouver. Similar size and climate but Vancouver has a hockey tradition that Seattle lacks. How did the Canucks draw when they had a weak team? Prior to the sister’s arrival, not great, and going back to the mid ’80s really bad as in less than 11,000 per game. So, I am not convinced that Seattle will be a success, even though the market is 3.5 million strong. If market size was the most important criteria, why not move the oil to Mexico City with a population equal to Canada?

  • Wax Man Riley

    With the above being said, who ever said that Katz is an “astute” business person?

    He is a supposed billionaire, I’ll give him that, but rumour has it he was gifted $400 million dollars to get started.

    Much easer to be a billionaire when someone gets you half way there.

  • yawto

    Surprised you left out the part of Delvanno’s comment about the players showing a bit of respect for how they are treated. I thought it was the best part.

    As per TSN,

    Devellano also said that players should take 43 per cent of the revenue, instead of the current 57 per cent, and let the owners manage the rest of their expenses.

    “Yes, they are billionaires,” Devellano said. “Good on them, they deserve it, but they also make their employees millionaires. Not a bad tradeoff for a guy like (Milan) Lucic getting what, $6 million a year? I mean good on him too, but he should be grateful. Understand, though, that these players want for nothing … it’s first class this, first class that, meal allowances, travel money on the road, the whole shebang.”

    As a fan, I understand players going to Russia for a scare to the Owners but like it or not, that plane crash last year and the death of Cherapanov on the bench has scared anyone other than Russians from going to the KHL for good. It’s one thing to make good money and fly and travel with the best in North America. It’s another to deal with the tax free money and Russian Airways.

    Delvanno nailed it on the head. I just plead indifference. As a young parent I don’t have the money to go to games anymore anyways. I watch all my stuff on TV and buy a couple hundred dollars of licenced merch every year cause I like how it looks. THey want to fight over who gets the money out of the sale, their business their right. I won’t lie and say I won’t watch it when it’s not back on. I get the business. I also get on with my life.

    For everyone on hear saying they are going to forget the league when this lockout ends. I find it funny. You will hate it when its back but spend every day on a blog site about the product until it returns.

  • yawto

    Also forgot to say, funny how players won’t take a 10% cut to play at home in luxury where they are treated like gods. Yet they will go to europe and play for a fraction of their salary to prove a point. Seems asanine.

  • Jason Gregor’s first article in the Edmonton Journal is up. I’d like to extend congratulations.

    Now two ON writers have made their way to the Journal’s pages. I bet Wanye never saw that coming when this site was started.

  • DSF

    Oilers rep dubnyk was quoted in the journal as saying “this does not make sense”, or words to that effect. If the player rep can’t make sense of it, then just sign a deal, collect the millions then back to your stalls.

  • Reg Dunlop

    The threat to move the Oilers is just grandstanding and a deliberate attempt to sway public opinion.

    I can’t fathom the depths of pure hatred and wishes of ill-will that would wash over Darryl Katz if he tried to move the Oilers. In an instant, Darryl Katz would become Edmonton public enemy number one by a galactic mile. Pocklington, Pronger, Comrie and all other Oilers persona from the past that scorned the franchise and the city would be forgotten in the blink of an eye if DK moved this team.

    DK would not be able to live in Edmonton anymore and I honestly feel like we could see a break down in society, at least in the 780, if DK pulled the plug. Can you imagine KLowe and MacT hitching their wagons to the DK train if it left for another city? Seriously, if DK moved the Oilers the public backlash would be a gruesome, swift apocalypse.

    Darryl Katz, local boy done good, Lifelong Oiler fan, franchise savior, architect of the rebuild, city of Edmonton advocate and cheerleader, this guy is gonna move the team? C’mon.

    No effing way. I can’t see anyway a purported stand up guy and lover of all things Edmonton and Oilers would willfully sign up to become public enemy number one. His only legacy in western Canada would be that of the biggest dickhead in history for lack of a better description regardless of how much money or Stanley’s his former oilers playing in a new city accumulated for him.

    His name would be dirt. Forever. I can’t see him pushing all in if it meant he could never have his Edmonton life back for him and his family.

    Not gonna happen.

    • Reg Dunlop

      It seems that to a big bunch of people he already is Public Enemy Number One.

      The great crime, besides being wealthy and from Edmonton, that he wants a similar deal to all the other guys in the league (except Toronto). He doesn’t want to go bust on the arena like Ottawa did.

      And if the stituation forces him to sell, what about all the people that made conditions such that he can’t stay except at a great cost to himself. Please remember that this “excellent marketplace” is one that has literally sunk two previous sets of owners.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Also, thanks to LT for the Raquel Welch blast. Hubba,hubba. My old man had a puzzle of Ursula Andress when I was a kid. Nude from the front on one side of the puzzle,from the back on the other side. Anyone remember those ‘Reversible Ursula’ puzzles?

  • paul wodehouse

    reginald dunlop…well played sir…a total geography lesson…i started smelling something fishy when the 74 miles to the rink district in seattle was mentioned in such classic condescending d s f fashion…

    DSF…this time…you ARE the weakest link !!!

    best busted DSF ever!!! right in front of LT calling DSF a human rain delay…good times!

    AND no HUG required!

  • paul wodehouse

    …i don’t recall THOSE puzzles but i do imagine a lot of DNA samples were collected on a few 1962 Honey Ryder posters back when…

    …and t’think Raquel replaced her more or less

  • Reg Dunlop

    Seattle is pie in the sky. The NHL would be foolish to go into a market that is already saturated with big league sports like the NFL,MLB and NHL. Hockey market? Questionable. Think more recent. Hartford. They would be a more sensible market. They would need a new arena but there is money there to be had from the City and the State and UConn. Who currently play there home games at the Hartford Civic center along with the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. The front runners are easy to identify. Quebec City and Southern Ontario. If we are looking to add a western based franchise would Saskatoon not be an easier sell for the NHL? There arena is equal to that of Winnipeg and it would be small market only in the sense of where they would play. They would have an entire province to draw from. Ala the RoughRiders. Just sayin.

  • Reg Dunlop

    thought Devellano used a valid analogy and it unfortunate the players got their feelings hurt.

    i’m part of the cattle at my work along with my fellow employees. it’s ok i get it. doesn’t change who i am.

    at first i despised both sides but now primarily the players. which will make it harder, actually, to come back to the game and watch these entitled…

  • Reg Dunlop

    The images of Pocklingon and Katz are starting to blurr together for me.

    Too bad 2.0 is only mimicking the later years of 1.0 only and skipped right past those exciting early successful years.

  • Truth

    You know we are slowly going Lockout crazy when we actually entertain ourselves by replying to that knob DSF….for gods sakes call his mom and have her yank his internet access…

  • paul wodehouse


    The ‘green’ Riders are the team that spells its’ name in ONE word [saskatchewan]


    …i’m not a flatlander but Ottawa is the other team called RoughRiders…when they exist