Senior Vice-President & Alternate Governor
Entering his 35th season with the Detroit Red Wings and his 50th overall in the National Hockey League, Jim Devellano continues to be a driving force behind Detroit’s success, as well as a strong influence in the evolution and improvement of the league itself. Devellano can be credited with carefully building Detroit’s 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008 Stanley Cup championship teams through the entry draft, savvy trades and aggressive free agent acquisitions.
He choreographed the Red Wings’ steady rise into the powerful club that has reached the Stanley Cup finals six times and lifted the coveted Cup in triumph four times, giving Devellano his fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh Stanley Cup rings (three with New York Islanders and four with Detroit).
Devellano was the first individual hired by owners Mike and Marian Ilitch after purchasing the Red Wings in June, 1982. He was the team’s general manager for eight seasons before ascending to his current position as senior vice-president on July 13, 1990. An excellent judge of talent throughout his 50 years in the NHL, Devellano believes that building a solid foundation begins with a capable scouting staff and strong entry draft selections. Evidence of the wisdom in this plan can be seen in Devellano’s first draft as Red Wings general manager when he tabbed future Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman in the 1983 draft to be the cornerstone of the franchise.
Devellano was one of the first NHL general managers to assemble a strong European scouting staff back in 1984, a progressive move that has produced several Red Wings standouts including Russians Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, Vladimir Konstantinov and Pavel Datsyuk, and Swedes Nicklas Lidstrom, Tomas Holmstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall.
Through the course of Devellano’s tenure with the Red Wings, Detroit has participated in ten conference finals (1987, ‘88, ‘95, ‘96, ‘97, ‘98, ’02, ’07, ’08, ‘09) and six Stanley Cup Finals (1995, ‘97, ’98, ’02, ’08, ‘09), collected six Presidents’ Trophies (1995, ‘96, ‘02, ‘04, ’06, ‘08), eight regular-season Western Conference championships (1994, ‘95, ‘96, ‘02, ‘04, ‘06, ‘07, ‘08) and 16 division championships (1988, ‘89, ‘92, ‘94, ‘95, ‘96, ‘99, ‘01, ‘02, ‘03, ’04, ‘06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ‘11).
Devellano is the proud owner of 16 championship rings. His impressive collection includes: seven Stanley Cup rings (N.Y. Islanders 1980, 1981, 1982 and Detroit 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008), four Calder Cup championship rings in the American Hockey League with Adirondack (1986, 1989 and 1992) and Grand Rapids (2013), two Adams Cup championship rings in the Central Hockey League (Fort Worth 1978 and Indianapolis 1982), and one Riley Cup championship ring in the East Coast Hockey League (Toledo 1994). Devellano also added a pair of Major League Baseball American League championship rings with the Detroit Tigers in 2006 and 2012.
Devellano’s lengthy tenure as head of hockey operations for the Red Wings is second only to the 35 years served by the late Jack Adams, the legendary GM credited with building the Red Wings dynasty of the 1950’s. In addition to his duties as senior vice-president, Devellano serves as the team’s alternate on the NHL’s Board of Governors.
His litany of accomplishments while in Detroit earned him induction into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2006.
He has been instrumental in many historical decisions in the National Hockey League. In 1980, it was Devellano who campaigned to have the annual NHL entry draft moved from a hotel ballroom into various NHL arenas, transforming the draft into an exciting fan-friendly event for fans of all NHL teams to witness what occurs with each team as the draft takes place. Devellano was also responsible for bringing the draft to the United States for the very first time on June 13, 1987, at Joe Louis Arena. Additionally, it was at Devellano’s suggestion that the NHL instituted a new overtime format beginning with the 1999-00 season that includes skating four aside as well as one point for each team following a five-minute overtime and an additional point if a team is victorious in overtime.
Having served as a teacher and mentor to numerous front office personnel over the years, Devellano’s influence has reached several NHL clubs. Currently, there are three NHL general managers who have succeeded under Devellano’s tutelage - Detroit general manager Ken Holland, Steve Yzerman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Jim Nill of the Dallas Stars.
Devellano did not play professional hockey, but rose through the ranks in various capacities in his native Toronto. Joining former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, he became a scout with the St. Louis Blues in 1967 when the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams. Also, it was Devellano’s strong recommendation to owner Mike Ilitch that led to Scotty Bowman’s hiring by the Wings.
Joining the New York Islanders as a scout when that club was founded in 1972, Devellano’s scouting skills helped build a team that won four consecutive Stanley Cup titles (1980-83). It was Devellano who highly recommended that Islanders GM, Bill Torrey, hire Al Arbour to coach the club. Arbour was captain of the St. Louis Blues when Devellano scouted for the franchise. The recommendation turned out better than expected as Arbour guided the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup championships. In 1979-80, he became general manager of the Islanders’ Indianapolis (CHL) farm club and was named Minor League Executive of the Year by The Hockey News. He returned to New York in 1981 as the Islanders’ assistant general manager.
Devellano’s extraordinary contributions to the cities of St. Louis, Indianapolis, New York and Detroit helped earn him the Lester Patrick Award in October, 2009, for his outstanding service to the sport of hockey in the United States. Devellano also reached the pinnacle of his profession when he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builder Category on November 8, 2010, in Toronto.
Devellano is currently a member of the International Society of Hockey Research and is part owner of the Indianapolis Indians (AAA) baseball team. He authored a book in 2008, “The Road To Hockeytown”, that chronicles his more than 40 incredible years in the game of hockey.
On a personal level, in 2003 Devellano set up two private foundations supporting mostly children’s charities in the United States and Canada.
In June 2001, Mike Ilitch named Devellano senior vice president of MLB’s Detroit Tigers. Devellano resides in Detroit and Sarasota, Florida.