As Greg Wyshynski said, the NHL has muzzled its teams during the lockout to ensure owners and executives remain on message. Friday, Red Wings' Senior VP Jim Devellano gave us an example of what going off message might entail during an interview with Island Sports News.
Giving credence to the suspicion that the offer sheet market is suppressed by collusion? That's off-message. Characterizing the owners as ranchers and the players as cattle? That's really off message.
When the NHL invoked the Bonnie Raitt provision (do not, under any circumstances, give them something to talk about), one assumes they were thinking of things like this.
It shouldn't come as much of a surprise, then, that Devellano has been fined for his comments. From the NHL release:
The National Hockey League announced today that the Detroit Red Wings have been fined an undisclosed amount for comments made by Red Wings Senior Vice President and Alternate Governor Jim Devellano in an interview that was published earlier this week.
"The Detroit Red Wings' organization and the League agree that the comments made by Mr. Devellano are neither appropriate, nor authorized, nor permissible under the League's By-Laws," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "Such comments are neither constructive nor helpful to the negotiations."
Let's relive those nonconstructive, unhelpful comments one more time:
"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."
The league's not messing around here, either. This isn't some half-hearted fine just to remind owners and executives they were kinda serious about not saying anything.
Devellano's undisclosed fine was a cool $250,000, or roughly half the cost of an entry-level cattle.