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The Other Quote From Jimmy D.

from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,

Much of the debate centred on Devellano calling the players "cattle," although he also referred to himself as livestock. But the real money quote came seconds earlier to Island Sports News reporter Scott Harrigan.

Here is the exchange:

SH: "What's with all the money flying around before the lockout, when all the fans see is huge contracts to, for example, Sutter, Weber, Myers, Lucic? Let's take for example the offer sheet Philly proposed to Weber in the face of Nashville owner. What message are they trying to send?"

JD: "Listen Scott, there is a hard cap in place, as we all know. You can't go over that. Period. If [Shea] 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 [Philadelphia Flyers] operated within the CBA [collective bargaining agreement] 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. If you are asking me if it's right, I would say there is, again, an unwritten rule ... we all know it in the NHL. But not everyone follows it."

I almost fell of the couch reading that paragraph and can only imagine the reactions of Bettman, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, NHL Players' Association executive director Donald Fehr and their legal posses.

I'm not a lawyer (thank goodness). But the consequences of that quote are potentially enormous.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Detroit Red Wings, NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jimmy+devellano


phillyd's avatar

The rest of that article also talks about players can’t collude either on contracts according to the previous CBA and the first comment brings up the Parise/Suter deals with Minnesota which I think is a very valid point/counter-point to what is being implied with Devellano’s quote.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 09/27/12 at 11:23 AM ET

Keyser S.'s avatar

I’m not the sharpest color in the toolbox, but I have no idea why the consequences of that quote are potentially enormous.

Posted by Keyser S. on 09/27/12 at 12:04 PM ET

phillyd's avatar

Because in the mind of the author, the admission of an unwritten rule where GMs don’t make offer sheets because “it’s not just what you do” is a form of collusion. The reasoning is it limits the bargaining power of a RFA by limiting to the team that holds his rights as a restriction of trade/negotiations. I think I said that right.

Posted by phillyd from Southern New Jersey on 09/27/12 at 12:08 PM ET


Posted by Keyser S. from http://theredwingsforum.com on 09/27/12 at 12:04 PM ET

Because it could be seen as an admission that most of the owners in the league are colluding with one another.

The only problem is that Devellano is neither an owner nor a GM, and he’s also batshit crazy and isn’t smart enough to ever think before he speaks, so his comments don’t hold a lot of water.

Posted by Garth on 09/27/12 at 12:09 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Essentially, any “unwritten rule” that’s not held by both sides is collusion. The players certainly didn’t have a hand in un-writing the rule about how you’re not supposed to give offer sheets to RFAs.

The entire purpose of a CBA and of the league dealing with the Players’ Union is that it helps prevent the league from being sued in federal court over anti-competitive practices.

If the NHLPA can build a case off Devellano’s comments, they may have a means to legally challenge the NHL for engaging in such a practice.

...OR (more hopefully on my end) the NHLPA can use just the threat of taking it to a court case as a bargaining chip to get the current CBA settled.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/27/12 at 12:23 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

I don’t think it is more than an off-the-cuff comment, don’t see how it can give much leverage.

The real value of this article is Friedman doing what has needed to be done, and giving a quick primer to hockey fans that aren’t familiar with Fehr’s history dealing with collusion in MLB. The folks that “fear Fehr” and think that he’s just a no-goodnick that always wants his players to strike and/or hold out as a result of the 1994-1995 baseball strike are folks that only heard the story on the surface. Once you learn about those three collusion cases, and then even take it back to the player collusion with Koufax and Drysdale, and then take it even farther back to learn about the reserve clause, it becomes very clear that what Fehr did for the MLBPA both in the collusion cases and in the strike were necessary evils to make the game of baseball right. And you know what, the results speak for themselves—baseball will easily reach 20 years of labor peace, filled with multiple CBA re-negotiations that were cordial, productive, and filled with compromise.

Hockey is broken right now. And certainly, I don’t want to paint Fehr as a lone savior. But Fehr has the experience and track record of making a game like this better for the long-term, so if he and the owners can find some common ground, and all have cool heads, there’s really no better person to have involved from the PA side if you are a hockey fan that just wants to see hockey end up with the stability and peace baseball has had.

Posted by Nathan from wasting perfect passes from my teammates on 09/27/12 at 01:34 PM ET

Hockeytown Wax's avatar

As I am a computer tech, not a lawyer, I’ll be guessing on this, but I think I understand the ‘potential’ concequences.

Yes, it would be very difficult and time consuming to prove collusion because ...

A) you’d have to get at least one owner and/ or GM to admit everyone agreed to the ‘unwritten rule’.

B) You’d have to have paper proof that an offer sheet was considered then withdrawn because of said unwritten rule.

That means going through 5 years of emails and phone text messages and inner office memos (most of which doesn’t exist anymore).

C) You’d have to examine every single RFA situation over the last 5 years and try to determine which player there should have been an offer sheet on and which player would be ignored, and that leads to speculation unless you find the previously mentioned paper trail.

Yes, Jimmy D’s comment raises the flag of worry but, as we’ve seen in the past, not all GMs play nice and they do submit an offer sheet if there is a player they realy want on their team, regardless of what the ‘ass-hole’ factor is.

So far, there is nothing to go to court over (that I know of) but it now gives the NHLPA something to look into once the CBA is settled.

Posted by Hockeytown Wax from West Bloomfield, Mi. on 09/27/12 at 05:11 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail with his opinion…

Elliotte is as well-connected a hockey reporter as there is, and he raises an interesting point.

I’m prepared to believe the worst of professional sports leagues and their owners, but conspiracies are hard to orchestrate and my initial instinct is to answer the basic question (is it actionable?) with a ‘no.’

There are a couple of reasons for this.

In the case of baseball’s collusion scandal, there was ample evidence of the owners deliberately holding down salary inflation in violation of some pretty specific contract language (as Elliotte points out).

But the NHL’s average salary has increased by almost 50 per cent in the past eight years, since the offer sheet process was codified in the post-lockout CBA.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 09/27/12 at 05:47 PM ET


It’s pretty tough to prove collusion when the context in which the alleged collusion is discussed revolves around a team not, in fact, colluding.

Further, even beyond this issue there have been at least a couple RFA offer sheets extended.  IIRC Hjalmarsson got one, Penner got one, Weber got one.  Those are all recent.  Obviously Fedorov got one back in the day.  I’m sure I’m missing some in between, but they aren’t exactly legion, either.  Given the nature of the RFA compensation sheets it really shouldn’t be happening all that often.

I mean, most teams that have a good soon to be RFA do the thing Detroit did with Zetterberg and then Filppula, namely buy the guy past his initial RFA date a couple years before he reaches it with an extension.  The ones that are less good aren’t going to get the sheet in the first place.

Seems like a non-issue issue.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 09/27/12 at 08:15 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

An “unwritten rule” is not necessarily collusion in any way.  It’s the same thing as ‘social norms’, which people pick up on and eventually adhere to not through agreements with others, but by observing their environment and acting like those around them in order to maintain general harmony.

Posted by BrendonTO on 09/27/12 at 10:34 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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