Is there a chance that NHL owners will cave in the ongoing CBA negotiations with the NHLPA? Not a chance, says one high-ranking team executive.
In a candid interview with Island News Sports, Detroit Red Wings vice president Jim Devellano said that there's no chance the owners cede ground to the players in the current lockout -- the third lockout of Gary Bettman's 20-year tenure as league commissioner. He shared a worldview that seems common of many that run NHL teams: That the players are nothing without the billionaire owners who employ them and, in many cases, lose money on employing them.
From the interview with ISN's Scott Harrigan, which is worth a full read:
"Now [NHLPA director] Donald Fehr would have you believe by getting rid of the cap, the owners would make more money and that the sky is the limit, but trust me Scott, the owners would lose their asses. We've tried that. It doesn't work. There is just too much cost involved in running and owning a team.
"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 also remarked that Gary Bettman doesn't deserve the scorn of hockey fans, as he's simply doing the work of the 30 team owners from across the league. He said that Bettman does care about his public persona, but that in the end, he only needs to answer to those 30 owners and not the fans. A harsh truth.
If Devellano is correct and those 30 team owners fail to give in even the slightest bit to the players' union in these talks, the cancellation of another season is certainly in play. If that happens, the blame from the fans is undoubtedly going to fall on Bettman harder than ever before. But as long as the owners are happy when all is said and done, Bettman doesn't really need to answer to us.