Red Wings senior vice president Jim Devellano and former forward Dino Cicarelli were formally inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto tonight.
Devellano was the first general manager Mike and Marian Ilitch hired after buying the Wings in 1982 and Devellano didn’t disappoint. “Jimmy D” turned a team that rarely made the playoffs into a perennial contender and has been an executive for the team for all four of its’ most recent Stanley Cup wins.
After grooming his heir Ken Holland to be the team’s general manager, Devellano assumed the role of senior vice president in 1997 and has served in that capacity ever since. Devellano was instrumental in bringing in European players that other teams wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, a model other teams have tried to replicate:
“Look, we simply could not get enough players quick enough out of North America,” Devellano said. "It was going to take forever to rebuild. We needed to find other resources for a supply of good players, and I knew in Russia and Czechoslovakia there were some fabulous players. But no one would draft them simply because there was an Iron Curtain up.
“I figured if I drafted them, our people could find a way to get them here,” he said. "People have jumped on our European model, ever since.
Ciccarelli was with the team from 1992-1996 and accumulated 608 goals (107 with Detroit) and 1,200 points in his 19-year career. Ciccarelli often managed his own contracts, which led to some pretty tense moments with Devellano and the front office:
"He was a little bit of an underdog, with the broken leg and not getting drafted," Devellano said. "He always felt he had to stick up for himself, and he was right. "Of course, at that time, I was managing the Red Wings, and we had a huge payroll. … We were close to winning a Cup, so I had to watch who we gave money to. Him and I would get into some pretty heated contract discussions, but at the end of the day, it never bothered me. I admired him for fighting for himself."
Both Devellano and Ciccarelli are certainly deserving inductees. Ken Holland is often referred to as the best GM in the NHL, but there wouldn’t be a Ken Holland without “Jimmy D.” Congratulations to both.