Hockey Hall of Famer Jim Devellano is the architect of two hockey dynasties, winning seven Stanley Cup's (3 with the New York Islanders and 4 with the Detroit Red Wings). He's the Senior Vice President of both the Detroit Tigers and the Red Wings. Now, he can add the Saginaw Spirit to that list.
Spirit owner Dick Garber announced the addition of Devellano to the Saginaw Spirit ownership group this afternoon.
“We welcome Jim Devellano and his Stanley Cup championship pedigree to the Saginaw Spirit organization,” Garber said in an email Thursday afternoon. “In his nearly 50 years in the game, there are few that have attained the success that Jim Devellano has. We look forward to working together to bring that same championship mindset to the Spirit in the coming years.”
Devellano will serve as Alternate Governor of the Spirit, representing the team in OHL board of Governors meetings. His primary roll will be to advise and council Garber; along with managing partner Craig Goslin, and General Manager Dave Drinkill.
The 73 year old Toronto native broke into hockey as an amateur scout for the St. Louis Blues in 1967 where he first crossed paths with Scotty Bowman who was an assistant coach at the time. In 1972 he was hired as an eastern Canada scout for the expansion New York Islanders where he scouted Hall of Fame defenseman Denis Potvin leading to a dynasty in New York with four straight Stanley Cup's from 1979 through 1983. Devellano was there for three of those Cups (1980, 1981, and 1982).
In 1982 new owner's Mike and Marian Ilitch hired Devellano as the Red Wings General Manager where he would serve until 1990, and again serve as GM from 1994 through 1997 alongside Bowman. Devellano won four Stanley Cups in Detroit (1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008).
He is the guy who brought Steve Yzerman to Detroit and who revolutionized the Sport when he found a way to help Sergei Federov defect to Detroit from behind the Iron Curtain after seeing him play at the World Junior Championships in Alaska back in 1989..
In 1984 he became the first NHL GM to assemble a European scouting staff leading to the infamous 'Russian Five' consisting of Federov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Vyacheslav Koslov, Igor Larionov, and Vladimir Konstantinov.
Devellano met Spirit managing partner Craig Goslin through current Red Wing GM Ken Holland around ten years ago which ultimately led to his arrival in Saginaw.
“For many many years I've always had a desire -because basically I'm an Ontario kid who grew up in Toronto- to buy an OHL team,” Devallano said in a telephone conference Thursday afternoon. “Obviously, as the price of franchises went up it would be an impossibility, I don't have the financial wherewithal to own a full team, but I've always had the desire.
“About a decade ago I got to meet a gentleman by the name of Craig Goslin who is a good friend of Ken Holland's and through Ken's friendship with Craig, I became a friend of Craig. He used to reach out to me on occasion to ask me hockey questions regarding Saginaw and what they might do or how they might do it. A long time ago I jokingly said to him, 'you know, if there is ever a chance to buy into the Spirit let me know' and about a month or two ago, Dick Garber and Craig reached out to me and gave me an opportunity to come in as a minority partner, and really, the thoughts are that maybe I can help them out on the hockey side of the franchise.”
Goslin is excited to welcome his mentor to the Spirit ownership group as they continue to build a championship atmosphere.
“We are honored to welcome into our ownership group Hall of Famer and seven-time Stanley Cup Champion Jimmy Devellano,” Goslin said. “He has been one of my mentors for many years and it is great to now have Jim as a partner. His experience, wisdom and passion for the Saginaw Spirit and unique vision of the game make him very valuable as he advises and assists us to build the culture of a championship contender here in Saginaw. Jim knows what the right culture looks like as he and Ken Holland have been the architects of the Detroit Red Wings' 25-year playoff run.”