Many were shocked to hear Detroit Red Wings executive Jim Devellano refer to players as “cattle” and owners as “ranchers” in a sprawling interview that eventually netted him a whopping $250K fine.
San Jose Sharks winger Martin Havlat told his agent Allan Walsh that the comments are no surprise to him, though.
“We’re 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. It’s just never been reported publicly. I think it helps that the fans get to hear what we already know. We’re not humans in their eyes; we’re just pieces of meat that get to eat some grass for awhile.”
(Bonus points to Havlat for playing along with Devellano’s metaphor at the end there.)
David Shoalts has an interesting take on the fine: with all the bad PR the league is getting, perhaps dropping the hammer down on a team exec could score some point with fans?
In 2004-05, it was obvious a lot of NHL teams were in serious financial trouble so it was easy to paint the players as overpaid fat cats unwilling to save the league by agreeing to accept a salary cap.
Seven years later, it is just as easy for the players to point out the owners got their new system, were happily handing out hundred-million-dollar contracts one day and then pleading poverty the next.
Bettman needs to build at least some trust with the fans. Giving the appearance of coming down hard on one of his own will not hurt in that regard.
But how can one extend this idea to the ranchers/cattle analogy? Someone get Havlat on the horn.