NHL Fines Detroit Red Wings $250,000 for Jim Devellano's Comments: Fair or Foul?

Eric McKelvieSenior Writer ISeptember 22, 2012

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Detroit Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland (L) and Detroit Red Wings Senior Vice President Jim Devellano speak during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Detroit Red Wings were fined $250,000 Saturday for comments made by senior vice president Jim Devellano, according to Nick Cotsonika of Yahoo! Sports.

Devellano commented on CBA negotiations, the lockout and other topics in a lengthy interview with Scott Harrigan of Island Sports News.

It's very complicated and way too much for the average Joe to understand, but having said that, I will tell you this: 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 its always been and that 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.

Devellano was straightforward and to the point in the interview and made critical remarks about the media, the CBC’s Ron MacLean and the Philadelphia Flyers for breaking an "unwritten rule" by submitting an offer sheet to Shea Weber. He also made comments regarding Gary Bettman, the owners and suggested that the distribution of revenue should be reversed, with the owners taking 57 percent and the players 43 percent.

His comments (likely those describing the owners as the ranch and the players as the cattle) crossed the line, according to NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. According to TSN.ca, Daly noted that Devellano’s comments were "neither appropriate, nor authorized, nor permissible under the League's By-Laws."

The NHL certainly has the right to fine the Red Wings for comments made by one of their executives, but is $250,000 excessive in this case?

According to CBC.ca, Gary Bettman has threatened teams with the possibility of a $1 million fine for comments deemed inappropriate during the lockout.

With that in mind, perhaps the Red Wings are lucky to escape with what Bettman and the league possibly view as a "small" fine?

Devellano may not have chosen the best words to describe current state of the league, the lockout, etc., but his assessment of the situation may be accurate.

At the very least, it’s good for fans to hear the opinion of someone like Devellano, who has extensive NHL management experience. Unfortunately, it may be the last time we hear such an honest opinion on the lockout, as the NHL sent a strong message with the fine. 

Devellano was a scout and assistant GM with the New York Islanders in the 1970s and early 1980s. He was hired as the GM of the Detroit Red Wings in 1982, a position he held until 1990. He enjoyed his second stint as GM of the Red Wings from 1994 until 1997 when Ken Holland took over. Devellano then took the senior vice president and alternate governor positions and has remained with the organization ever since. 


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