NHLers not flattered by being equated to farm animals

 

Iginla, Coburn react to Devellano’s offside comments

 
 
 
 
Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla continues to work out in informal skates at the Winsport Ice Complex.
 

Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla continues to work out in informal skates at the Winsport Ice Complex.

Photograph by: Gavin Young, Calgary Herald

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word — as mandated by National Hockey League bigwigs — Jimmy Devellano burst forth with a number of them.

Not surprisingly, the outburst did not go over well with the, uh, herd.

“It’s not very flattering, but it is what it is,” Jarome Iginla, furrow-browed, said after the Calgary Flames’ informal skate at WinSport’s Ice Complex on Monday, Day 9 of the NHL lockout. “I didn’t necessarily appreciate it as a player, but at the same time I don’t think about it too much, to be honest.”

Devellano is the senior vice-president of the Detroit Red Wings, who had their collective pants fined off thanks to these, and other, comments:

“The owners can basically be viewed as the ranch, and the players, and me included, are the cattle. The owners own the ranch and allow the players to eat there.”

The quotes appeared on the Island Sports News website, then, given a leg up by social media, exploded in the hockey world.

Asked if Devellano’s words simply confirm what NHL executives really think about players, Braydon Coburn quipped: “No, I didn’t know he was such a big farm enthusiast.”

But Coburn, as easy-going as he is, knows a put-down when he hears one.

“I don’t think anyone wants to be referred to as a farm animal,” he said. “It is what it is. Someone said something they probably shouldn’t have. Not the first time that’s ever happened.”

Sadly, this is what passes for NHL news these days.

Sure, the owners and the union got together Monday in Toronto, but only to sign off on escrow pay-out.

And the NHLPA’s challenge to the Alberta Labour Relations Board to prevent the locking out of the Flames and the Edmonton Oilers — which was heard Friday in Edmonton — has yet to yield a ruling.

So players do what they do at this time of year.

Skate. Shoot. Pass.

Monday’s gathering, under the guidance of Calgary Dinos’ assistant coach Cory Cross, included many of the usual participants — Miikka Kiprusoff, Henrik Karlsson, Kyle Moir, Cory Sarich, Jay Bouwmeester, Brett Carson, Karl Alzner, Derek Smith, Alex Tanguay, Mikael Backlund, Chuck Kobasew, Domenic Pittis, Curtis Glencross, Blake Comeau, Brendan Morrison, Sven Baertschi, Iginla and Coburn.

“Guys are out here trying to make the best of a bad situation,” said Coburn, 27. “The good thing is, guys are working hard and trying to stay ready.”

Coburn, a member of the Philadelphia Flyers, was born in Calgary. And he did marry a local lass and they do make their off-season home here.

So skating at WinSport makes sense.

“Just like every other Saskatchewan transplant, I’m here in Calgary,” chuckled Coburn, who grew up in Shaunavon. “For me personally, the thing that gets me? It just feels different. The fact that the leaves are turning. I’ve seen fall here now. Just a different feeling. I’m sure everyone wishes they were playing.”

In the meantime, skaters are throwing themselves into their on-ice chores with, according to Coburn, a minimum of griping.

“It’s not anyone is, like, ‘Ah man, this is terrible.’ Because we’ve got drills out there, good players, and we’re trying to keep it as fun as possible. Like I said, you just try to make the best of a bad situation.”

Which is what players of all stripes are doing — be they members of the Washington Capitals or the Colorado Avalanche, of the Flames or the Flyers.

“At this time of year, there’s a certain camaraderie-ship,” Coburn said of the mixed bag of players here. “A lot of these guys I know . . . so it doesn’t feel too out of joint for me. Everyone’s kind of got their own thing going on. We come together and we try to get our work done.

“Guys are trying to stay positive.”

During the previous lockout, Coburn had continued to perform for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. Taken by the Atlanta Thrashers eighth overall in 2003, one pick before Dion Phaneuf, the skyscraping defender was part of Canada’s dominating group at the 2005 world championship in Grand Forks, N.D.

NHL rumpus in those days had been barely on his radar.

“I think I was like a lot of 19 year olds in the WHL, you’re just kind of ilke, ‘Well, I’m here. I’ve been here a couple years,’ ” said Coburn. “So you just become immersed in your season and you become consumed with what you’re doing. The whole (lockout) thing is just chatter in the background.”

Seem like a long time ago?

“It does seem like a while ago,” replied Coburn. “When I think back to who I was then and who I am now? Lots has changed. A few more hairs on my back, I guess.”

scruickshank@calgaryherald.com

 
 
 
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Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla continues to work out in informal skates at the Winsport Ice Complex.
 

Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla continues to work out in informal skates at the Winsport Ice Complex.

Photograph by: Gavin Young, Calgary Herald

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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