Since the NHL lockout began last weekend, players have voiced their opinions on the negotiations and commissioner Gary Bettman through the media, interviews, and their Twitter accounts.
Ownership has been silent, as Bettman has threatened fines of up to 1 million for club officials speaking out.
That changed this weekend, though, when Detroit Red Wings executive Jim Devellano made some controversial comments in an interview with IslandSportsNews. Heres the senior VPs most repeated quote from that interview, which cost his organization a 250,000 fine:
"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's 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 responded with the large fine and statement from Bill Daly: 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.
Many NHL players didnt take too kindly to the comments from Devellano, including a couple San Jose Sharks. Logan Couture, who has committed to playing in Switzerland, tweeted:
Just read the article about a Red Wings exec calling the players "cattle" at the owners ranch. Wow. Logan Couture (@Logancouture) September 22, 2012Marty Havlat went much further, in a quote relayed via Twitter by his outspoken agent, Allan Walsh who has become a must-follow if youre keeping up on NHL lockout news, whether you agree with him or not.
It took four tweets for Walsh to relay Havlats full quote:
Were not shocked at being called cattle, Havlat said. I can tell you the players have been called a lot worse by some of the guys on the other side. Its just never been reported publicly. I think it helps that the fans get to hear what we already know. Were not humans in their eyes; were just pieces of meat that get to eat some grass for awhile.
Havlat, incidentally, hasnt yet decided if hell be playing overseas just yet, although he said before the lockout hit that he would consider it. Walsh told CSNCalifornia.com via email that all options are on the table for Havlat, so apparently he hasnt decided yet.
Meanwhile, this week will be critical if there is any hope of starting the season on time. Its been 11 days since the NHL and NHLPA last sat down for formal discussions, and nine days since the lockout began on September 15. The league has already canceled preseason games through the end of the current month, and should there be no agreement or meaningful movement by next weekend, the remaining preseason schedule and regular season games will be next.