He’s known simply as Jimmy D.
He never played or coached, but Jim Devellano has lived his life in hockey and is one of the most respected executives in the game. He is the owner of 14 championship rings, seven of which are for Stanley Cup wins—three with the New York Islanders and four with the Detroit Red Wings—and he has been instrumental in building the teams that won them.
From his humble beginnings in the working-class neighborhood of Cabbagetown in Toronto of the 1940s, to the years of glory and parades in Hockeytown, Jimmy D. has seen it all along the way. "The Road to Hockeytown" gives a rare glimpse inside the world of hockey from an unusual perspective—through the eyes of one of the game’s greatest executives.
This candid, personal account of Jim Devellano’s life and his more than 40 incredible years in the game of hockey gives an insider’s insight into the business and personalities of the game and a behind-the-scenes look at what the players and coaches are really like; how they are assessed, hired, and fired; how decisions are made on draft day; and how deals and trades really get done.
Since he broke into the NHL in 1967 as a volunteer scout with the St. Louis Blues, he’s seen the league expand from six teams to thirty, and been at the forefront of the game’s development. He was instrumental in hiring talented coaches such as Al Arbour with the New York Islanders and Scotty Bowman in Detroit, and in assembling one of the very first strong European scouting staffs. He was at the center of the wheeling and dealing that brought a crop of talented Russians like Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, and Vladimir Konstantinov from behind the Iron Curtain to the NHL. And, as a minority owner of Maple Leaf Gardens stock, was caught in the middle of the very public power struggle for the Gardens after Harold Ballard’s death.
On his watch with three different teams, he’s brought an all-star lineup of players into the NHL, including Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier, Mike Bossy, Clark Gillies, Bob Probert, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kelly Hrudey, Vladimir Konstantinov, Sergei Fedorov, Chris Osgood, and Steve Yzerman (his very first draft pick as GM!). The first person hired by Mike and Marian Ilitch in 1982, he’s seen the Red Wings go from the basement of the NHL to the pride of Detroit and been a key part of that amazing turnaround.
Jimmy D. has left his indelible mark on the game of hockey everywhere he has gone, from Cabbagetown to Hockeytown. As told to veteran journalist and broadcaster Roger Lajoie, "The Road to Hockeytown" is a fascinating memoir of a life lived in hockey.
To order a copy of "The Road to Hockeytown" today, call 1-800-WINGS-25.
What others have said about Jimmy D
“Although Jimmy never played professional hockey himself, he was born with an intense love for the game and has devoted his life to hockey. He lives and breathes the game. Hockey is better off because of Jimmy Devellano.” Mike and Marian Ilitch, owners, Detroit Red Wings
“Though he has never scored a goal, blocked a shot or thrown a body check, Jim Devellano contributed to seven Stanley Cup championships over three separate decades. An accomplishment of that magnitude is testament to his foresight, his insight and his hockey sense.” Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner
“He is my mentor. He gave me my first opportunity to get into the business. When he came to Detroit, one of the things he talked about was he was never going to trade a draft pick. He’s a tremendous architect.” Ken Holland, general manager, Detroit Red Wings
“He had what I would consider an outstanding career. He started from the very, very bottom and has worked his way up to, I would say, the top echelon in the league. I made him look so good, Mike Ilitch called me and stole him to Detroit.” Bill Torrey, former general manager, New York Islanders
“He is a truly respected hockey man who deserves all accolades that have been presented to him. However, where he has helped me the most is in understanding the sports environment in the city of Detroit. Jimmy spent countless hours advising me on this sports landscape upon my arrival in Michigan.” Dave Dombrowski, president & general manager, Detroit Tigers
“For more than the past 40 years Jim Devellano has had his hands on the hockey pulse. His remarkable accomplishments make him a Hockey Icon. Congratulations.” Scotty Bowman, former coach, Detroit Red Wings