Our very own Jimmy Devellano - the Wings version of Joe Biden - spouted off today about the lockout and his boy Gary. You can't ever fault Jimmy D for being honest, but his words stung a bit. This is a great interview from IslandSportsNews. Let's start on his feelings towards Gary:
"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'll tell you why - because Gary might not force the owners, but he does guide them. Think board of directors style - the board listens to management's recommendations and then gives a vote on the subject - 98% of the time, they agree with management. The owners will listen to Gary's recommendatoins and stand behind him.
Hit the jump for a lot more from Jimmy D, including why Detroit didn't go after Weber and how the owners really feel about the players:
Jimmy then contiues with his feelings on why everyone in the media hates GB:
"I think perhaps in his early years as commissioner, he may of come across as arrogant and condescending, but probably not intentionally. For me, I deal with the media everyday, so I understand how he feels to be misquoted. They ask a lot of loaded questions and many of the same questions over and over in different ways, but he's a smart man who rolls with it and the bottom line is he only has to answer to the owners at the end of the day."
Jimmy, I can bet that you've never been misquoted in your life, because simply put, the writers don't have to. You're bat-sh!t crazy already and damn if that doesn't make for some good quotes.
So moving on, we all wondered why Illitch didn't give an offer to one bearded restricted free agent (at least I did) - turns out those who said Mike Illitch (or KH) didn't want to upset the apple cart were dead on:
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 (Philadelphia) 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. 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."
And that sorta pisses me off. Either Kenny or Mike didn't want to piss anyone else off. That may be, but I think that's just bad business.
Finally, Jimmy D explains that the owners and player's partnership isn't one at all. I mean, take a look at this quote and tell me that this doesn't piss you off to no end:
"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."
Everyone made fun of the NFL players who claimed the league is a new form of slavery (and they well should have been, because, come on), but quotes like that certainly make you want to punch the owners in their stupid face. It's the owner's world and the players are just living in it. Sorta true, but wow.
Finally, what does Jimmy D think is the answer? Well, something damn near the owners original proposal of course.
"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.
There's plenty more in the full interview. Jimmy D is certainly interesting, I know that.
We got fined $250k for these comments. The NHL has stated that neither owners nor team officials are permitted to talk about the lockout. Maybe this is an attempt at damage control? Or to pretend like nothing is wrong?
It's basic economics that both sides are co-dependent. Without the players, the owners can't operate a successful league. Without the owners, the players can't play in a successful league. The international market place of hockey dictates that if the players could find a place that has better conditions, they would go there (some have and many more may); also, it dictates that if the owners could be as successful with another crop of players willing to accept their terms, they would do so. The fact that neither side has, en masse, left the relationship permanently tells us they are co-dependent. Apparently, this is too complicated for the Average Joe-Owner (and Joe-Player) to understand...
Just like government, it isn't the "owner" that get's rich. It's the tax payer (ticket holders, also known as fans) that makes the owner rich. They provide us with a service we like, and we pay a fee. With out us, no-one has any money.
There's a new concept....
I'm sorry, Jim; but who's turning the owners into billionaires? I'd presume it has more to do with the cattle than the ranch hands. Split it all 50-50 and quit being greedy. How much money are we going to be talking about when all of your players are gone? The Russian leagues will spend, so will the Swedish leagues.
The owners just come across as condescending douche bags. Like no one but they can understand how money is made and spent. The difference between the Ranch/Cattle and the NHL/NHLPA situation are these:
1) You are dealing with human beings who have families and put their bodies on the line daily for the sake of your individual ranch. This is not a forced obligation, but a conscious decision. Each individual player decides exactly how much effort they are going to put into your ranch. "To whom much is given, much is expected." Not obligated, expected. If you, as a Rancher, feel like you're not making enough money to justify someone's salary - or how much "grass" they "feed" on - then why not start structuring your contracts as a base entry/veteran minimum and then tack incentives on top. Hell, make it league mandate. Somewhat like this: everybody gets $150k coming into the league, for every goal the player scores, it's $$5k. When they reach certain plateaus there's an additional bonus, $10k for 10 goals, $20k for 20, and so on. Same thing for an assist, and so on down the line for whatever statistics that can be tracked. Solve your own problems and you won't need to lose money on something as silly as a lockout. We get it. You're all rich. Congratulations. Now get over yourselves.
2) Ranch owners do not make their money by selling admission to the ranch and allowing people the privilege of staring at their cattle eat grass for a few hours. In the case of the ranch, the money is made by the sale and slaughter of the cattle. The cow gets nothing but grass and electrocution or however they're being killed. This analogy is extremely telling of how disconnected from the real world the ownership group is. The bit about how everything is "first-class" for the players; really? I'm sure the owners don't have to slum it in "first-class," you know, like cattle.
3) I know I don't pay thousands of dollars a year for season seats, GameCenter Live, and in merchandise to enjoy a fashion show, which is what the NHL would devolve into without its players. I pay this money to watch players I can connect with. People I don't know personally, but feel like I do because of what's happened to and around them on the Ice. I see flashes of my own life in how a guy reacts to a goal, just as much as I do to a guy who's had a terrible shift, and even injuries. I connect with the players because I love The Game. I don't love the NHL. I love Hockey. There is a very stark difference between the two. I will find ways, because they're already found, to watch hockey in other leagues. I will probably spend more time at local rinks, which will translate into less money for the ranch, and isn't that what you're bickering over? My money?
4) You try to lay yourself in the players camp by suggesting that you too are considered cattle. If that were the case, shouldn't you be silent, and eat your grass? That's what good cattle does, right? So, take your own advice: stay quiet and eat grass.
I don't agree with many things he said. For example, to me, it doesn't matter that the owners have made the players millionaires. What matters is, who deserves what percentage of the revenue. Take for example cast of The Jersey Shore. The cast of the Jersey Shore were making a lot of money for each episode in the first couple of seasons but they wanted more. Now, for some, the simple fact that they were making more than a doctor or lawyer PER EPISODE was enough reason to think, they don't deserve more money. Especially since all they're doing is getting drunk and having sex on TV. However, when you look at what they were bringing in for MTV, they deserved more. It's only fair to get paid what you're bringing in for the company you're working for. The owners have made the players millionaires, but let's not sit here and pretend like we pay for tickets and merchandise for the owners. The only reason we have a league to watch is because of the players. The players should appreciate the fact they get paid a shit load of money BUT the owners need to realize it's the players that create the revenue in the first place. Chicken & the egg paradox.
I do agree with him about the Weber situation though. I don't know about you but it's definitely NOT good business to burn bridges and piss off people who you may want to work with in the future.
@marti783 "It's only fair to get paid what you're bringing in for the company you're working for." I disagree with that logic. It's not a mentality I can get behind because it's inheritantly against my principles as a capitalist. It's fair to get paid what you agree to when you agree to work for a company. If I save my company millions and make a change to an operating strategy that helps us cash in and make billions more, I get 0 extra dollars because I agreed to a salary. To say I deserve X amount of the company is cool if that's what is written in my contract when I sign on, but I, like hockey players, agree to a yearly salary. It's just a bit too much on an organised labour tactic and when you've already committed to a sum of money, it's tough to ask for more.
Which I why I think the owners are really F'ing up. They're worse than a labour union. Times are good, so naturally you ask for more money, it's a common tactic amongst striking labour unions. We want more money because cash flows are much higher than we agreed to terms in the last CBA. Yeah, I get that, but locking out the players is basically the owners way of saying "we're going on strike until we get more money" and that's my biggest problem with it. I hate to hear Jimmy D talk about the owner's "not letting a labour union push us around" when that's exactly what they're doing...only they don't officially belong to a union, per se. It's the same thing and it's a tragedy that it conflicts with my passion.
It's why I think replacements would be a cool thing. Owners don't get any plus side to it really, unless attendance is good (which it won't be), but the fans get something with which to keep themselves occupied and the arena workers get to keep their jobs.
@brendanksullivan @marti783 Brendan, you are right. The thing about it is though, that the more an individual brings to the table, the more power they wield at the negotiating table. The players have negotiating power here as half of the co-dependent relationship, because people just wouldn't get that into watching "professional" hockey played at a significantly lower level. I might watch some, but I won't care nearly as much as I would wanting to watch Pav tear someone's groin in a totally non-homosexual manner.
@brendanksullivan "but I, like hockey players, agree to a yearly salary."
Exactly my point. If you save your company millions, or better yet, if you make your company millions, then the next time you are up for a pay raise, my guess is you're going to use that as leverage, right? If not, then you're a sucker (I'm not getting personal, just saying). It's not like they all of a sudden went on strike in the middle of the CBA.
@brendanksullivanUnions get a bad name because of a few bad ones out there. I interned in the HR department at a Ford factory and have seen first hand what unions are capable of doing but I also know that not all unions are like that. When you're dealing with possible multi-million dollar contracts of and a league making hundreds of millions a year, you'd be kidding yourself if you don't think the players need representation.
Actually it's just sort of the nature of the business that I'm in that we aren't "up for raises;" their more based on company earnings and personal evaluations by our management; although contracts for workers expire all the time. We do use our successes to get better raises and bonuses but we would never take to arbitration or anything like that...that's way too much of a union thang for us to stomach.
Oh I meant to say earlier too (but computer is acting wonky) that I agree on our business of not going after Weber. And gotta disagree with Garth...Jimmy D is like Jim Carey from Liar Liar. He should talk less, I've always felt, but he's not bullshitting us when he says they didn't go after Weber because of business principles. And if you want to criticise Jimmy D, Kenny and Mike Ilitch for their business principles, I'd say you're an ungrateful twat with an extremely short (less than 4 year) memory. I love what they've done with our franchise and though every offseason can't be blockbuster, I'm not gonna bitch because there are plenty of franchise with horrible owners/GMs/plans that are looking for a good staff.
@marti783 It would've been bad business to piss off the Nashville organization? Why, because they would ever consider making a significant deal with a team in their division whom they consider to be a rival? Hell, the restricted free agents it would make the most sense for the Wings to go the offer sheet route with are the ones playing on teams in the Wings' division.What isn't good business is to worry about burning bridges that were never built in the first place.
@marti783 I don't blame the Wings for not signing Weber to an offer sheet because it would've been counterproductive. They would've had to have made an offer similar to what Philly did, and everyone knew Nashville was going to match, so not only would they have not gotten Weber, they also would've taken him off the market for, conceivably, the rest of his career. Dickhead Jimmy D can pretend it was because of an unwritten rule, but the real reason they didn't do it is because they knew it wouldn't work, and they were hoping that Weber would end up signing with Nashville for a short term, after which they could make their pitch for him like they did with Suter.
Business isn't about being a gentleman. The "unwritten rule" might be not to sign players to offer sheets, but the WRITTEN rule is that it's allowed. If you don't do something because you're concerned about being a gentleman then you're just going to make yourself look like a fool.