MEMORIES OF 1980: Jim Devellano
by Chris Botta
His impact on the Islanders dynasty is so underrated that when he appears at the March 4 Celebration of the 1980 Stanley Cup team, it is believed to be the first time Jim Devellano will walk on the Coliseum ice in a formal ceremony honoring Islander greats such as himself. And that's perfectly fine with the gentleman affectionately known as Jimmy D.
"I'm so honored that the Islanders are including me," said Devellano, today still a member of the front office of the Detroit Red Wings. "I'm coming to Long Island on Friday so I can be part of the private party and see all my old friends and on Saturday, it will be all about the fans. It's going to be a special time for me, personally."
The players on the 1979-80 Islanders Stanley Cup team are not only his friends, in many cases they are his draft picks. Just as David Conte is justifiably heralded for his role in Lou Lamoriello's drafts in New Jersey, it is Devellano who was GM Bill Torrey's draft man. Of the 23 players whose names are on the 1980 Stanley Cup, an amazing 16 were drafted by the Islanders.
So here are the facts: Devellano was hired by Torrey in the summer of 1972 as a regional scout. His name is listed on the 1980 Cup along with the title "Chief Scout." After the first Cup, Torrey promoted Jimmy D to assistant general manager, the role he stayed in for two more Cups until he was named general manager of the Red Wings.
"The day the Islanders won the Stanley Cup was one of the greatest of my life," Devellano told us on Tuesday night. "You know, as a kid from Ontario who loved hockey, my first goal was to just make it in the business. Getting that first Stanley Cup was incredible. I never imagined I'd be fortunate enough to eventually have six Stanley Cup rings." After three Cups with the Islanders, Devellano selected Steve Yzerman in the first round in 1983, his first draft with Detroit, and won three more Stanley Cups with the Red Wings.
Even after more than two decades with the Red Wings, a big part of Jimmy D is still on Long Island. "I was with the Islanders for a decade, from the first game through the third Cup. I owe so much of my career to the Islanders people, from the owners and my colleagues and the players -- and I do not want to forget the fans. Being there on March 4 will be like going home for me."
Bill Torrey says it's a long time coming. "For all that he did for us, Jimmy D belongs on that Coliseum ice on March 4 and deserves as big an ovation as anyone."
The 1979-80 NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Drafted Players (16): Denis Potvin, Stefan Persson, Dave Langevin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, Bob Nystrom, Anders Kallur, Alex McKendry, Bob Lorimer, Ken Morrow, Garry Howatt, Lorne Henning, Duane Sutter, Steve Tambellini, Mike Bossy, John Tonelli
Players Acquired in Trades (6): Jean Potvin, Wayne Merrick, Bob Bourne, Gord Lane, Butch Goring, Glenn "Chico" Resch
Expansion Draft: Billy Smith
The 1980 Stanley Cup celebration, presented by Modell's and Newsday, will begin at 7:00 pm, followed by the regular season matchup between the 2005-06 Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers. In addition to the 1980 team, the Stanley Cup will also be in attendance at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Islanders full season subscribers will receive an added treat. Season subscribers are invited to the Islanders' morning skate on March 4, followed by an introduction of the 1980 team, sneak preview of that night's ceremony, plus a meet-and-greet with the legends.
Tickets are still available for the March 4 game between the Islanders and Flyers, preceded by the celebration of the 1980 Stanley Cup team. Tickets are available at the Coliseum box office, TicketMaster or by contacting the Islanders at 1.800.882.ISLES.