The Malik Report
by George Malik on 09/21/12 at 02:16 AM ET
Well, Red Wings fans, if you ever wondered whether the team's ownership or front office supports the lockout, VP Jimmy Devellano sprung to Gary Bettman's defense while speaking to the (Victoria, British Columbia) Island News's Scott Harrigan--before suggesting that the players' rejection of the owners' CBA proposal is nothing less than an "ungrateful" gesture, and mocking the NHLPA's solidarity given that players have headed to Europe to continue playing hockey.
It's a shocking interview if you aren't familiar with Devellano's rather militant anti-labor/player leanings, and my goodness, does he ever issue warm fuzzies regarding the Chairman (and the bolding/italics are Harrigan's)...
"I think it should be clear up front that Gary Bettman works for the owners, not the players, and he is now entering his 20th year doing this. The owners direct him on what to do. I was at the meetings last week and I'm here to tell you when there was a call to vote for the lockout, it was 30 to NONE in favour by the owners. So I ask you Scott, why is that Gary Bettman's fault and not the owners?"
"I don't hear people saying bad things about Ed Snider in Philadelphia, or Mike Illitch in Detroit. It is always people jumping on Bettman and to be honest he doesn't care. Maybe that's what irks the fans is that he comes away looking like it doesn't bother him in the least. But I will tell you this Scott, it does bother him, he has said as much to me many times. He has said he wished he wasn't booed wherever he goes, or that every time he reads the papers he is slammed. It does bother him greatly. However he knows what his job is and he does it well."
"Another reason people come down hard on him is that a lot of folks truly believe he is the driving force behind all the decisions on how owners proceed. Some of this is true, but I can tell you he is directed by 30 separate business owners who all give him advice and he has to take all of this and come back to all of them with what makes the most sense as a group. Not an easy thing to do, but he does it and does it well."
"Don't forget too that these owners aren't dumb guys and they are very aggressive men who run multi-million and multi-billion dollar companies. They want results and don't want to hear excuses and complaints as to what their employees may want. When you have Jeremy Jacobs (Boston) or Illitch (Detroit) calling him looking for advice, he has to have an answer forthwith."
That's just part of an incredibly spirited defense of Bettman, including suggestions that the media treats him patently unfairly, and that Bettman is in fact a good guy and not the...well, person you and I tend to believe him to be...
And, well, wow:
ISN: So what do you think is the solution?
"I'll make a suggestion Scott. Let the players take 43% and let the owners take 57%. Just reverse it from where it is now and let the owners run the rest of their business and manage their expenses. Now keep in mind this time around it's not just revenue sharing that is the issue. There are many, many more components at play here, from entry level contracts, years of service, insurance, etc. I mean a whole bucket load of disputes that are just as important for the owners to need to get a fair deal done."
"Yes, they are billionaires. Good on them, they deserve it, but they also make their employees millionaires. Not a bad trade off for a guy like Lucic getting what, 6 million dollars a year? I mean good on him too, but he should be grateful. Understand though that these players want for nothing...its first class this, first class that, meal allowances, travel money on the road, the whole shebang. Offer sheets don't hurt the players one bit."
ISN: Last thing Jimmy, any thoughts on players moving on and playing for the KHL or other European Leagues during the lockout?
"The players are doing what they have to do, but it's funny, you talk about solidarity and a handful have already bolted. You know who they are...like they need the money...yeah right! But I would caution them to be very careful not to get hurt because as of two days ago, we pulled all their league insurance (dental, medical, player) and all the benefits for each player, so if they get hurt, the NHL will not pay them one dime until they are cleared by league doctors and to the owner's satisfaction that the player is 100% fit and able to perform."
ISN: Do you think the fans will miss the NHL if it is suspended for any length of time?
"Remember it is just the NHL that is on strike, not any other league. Fans of the game should go see their AHL, ECHL or other minor pro team, or more importantly, to the best of your ability, support your local junior and minor hockey teams. Show these kids how much you really care for hockey. The NHL situation will get sorted out, but its complicated - I'm in the middle of it and its complicated for me too - and may take some time. Until then, go out and enjoy the game at the grass roots level and have some fun."
Devellano continues, and does so at some length, claiming that Donald Fehr wants to get rid of the salary cap, and openly calling players "cattle" grazing at the owners' "ranches."
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.