The current state of the NHL/NHLPA relations could be perceived as abysmal. With neither side willing to move at this point, and more and more of the big hockey pundits telling the fans to write off the season, tempers are going to start to fray. When tempers fray, people who normally know better will let their common sense slip and their tongue loose.
Lets take a look at the NHL’s most recent victim of ‘skate in mouth’ disease. The person I refer to is Jimmy Devellano, the senior vice-president of the Detroit Red Wings. Devellano was quoted in an interview with the Island Sports News on what the league’s impression was of the players. “The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, me included, are the cattle,” Devellano said. “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.”
Well, lets give him a gold star for honesty folks. A nice shiny metal sticker to make up for the “undisclosed fine”(later to be reported to be $250,000 US) leveled against the Red Wings organization by the NHL. Devellano’s comments broke several taboos. The first, he offered a directed insight to the state of the talks and violated part of the confidentiality clauses imposed by both the NHL and the NHLPA. Second, he let the players know EXACTLY how little some of the owners thought of them. In the same artice, Devellano mentioned that our own Milan Lucic should consider himself fortunate to have signed such a great contract extention.
What did Lucic have to say about this? “I guess I must be Grade A prime beef,” Lucic told CSSNE.com. “I think we’re pretty good cattle if you’re looking at it that way. You definitely as a person don’t like to be called ‘cattle.’ You’d think people would treat you better than as just an animal. I’m not going to say anything to disrespect him. But he said what he said and I kind of laughed at it.”He singled me out and I don’t know where or why he even singled me out. For me from an athlete’s perspective you look at him and what he’s done in his hockey career, and respect what he’s done for the game.”
He may be a hard, physical player on the ice. He may be a pugilistic force that makes other terms nervous, but off the ice this ‘Serbian Slayer’ is a real class act.