Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Ted Talks To The Fan Club

After an inane discussion about privacy and by-laws amongst the membership, Ted Leonsis addressed the Washington Capitals Fan Club for the seventh time since becoming owner of the Caps before Saturday night's game with Atlanta. Here are some of the highlights of that talk. My comments are in italics.

Ted started about by saying that he thought that the team was a little bit ahead of schedule. He repeated some of the more common lines about young, energetic, hard working, and so on. There was a preview of some of the players that are currently in the system like Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom that are expected to begin contributing to the team in the coming years. Ted also gave us some insight saying that the locker room was as positive as he has ever seen it. He said that he hadn't realized just how negative it had been in the past and pointed out that Olaf Kolzig and Brent Johnson are a modern day Sonny Jurgensen and Billy Kilmer. They are two players who play the same high profile position but are the best of friends and do not compete with each other for playing time. One other thing about locker room atmosphere that he mentioned was there is a lot less concern about ice time now than there was in the past. Ted wouldn't name any names but said for example that one player was upset that he was getting 22 minutes per game of ice time instead of 24.

On the team's play, Ted believes that the Caps are pretty good 5-on-5 and that the Power Play needs more time to develop chemistry to become really good. Talking to us last year, he mentioned that after taking over the Caps that the Tampa Bay Lightning came to Washington to see how the Caps operated and that Tampa wanted to emulate the Caps. He said that he now wants to see the Caps have three solid lines of forwards and have the team construct its own identity and not somebody else's.

Economically, Ted mentioned that he would like to add an additional 1,000 season ticket holder accounts of 3-4 seats a piece. Another challenge that he mentioned was getting more season ticket holders from the city of Washington, D.C. itself. He believes that, among NHL teams, the Caps have the fewest season ticket holders from the city that they play in. I don't see how this is a problem considering that D.C. proper has just over 500K residents and the demographics of that population are hardly favorable to hockey. He said that right now he doesn't see a situation where the Caps will spend the entire salary cap allotment. He said right now payroll is around $36 million including Jagr's salary and that he's still losing money. Ted also mentioned that were teams last year who were selling fewer season tickets than the Caps were and that had higher payrolls than the Caps that were complaining about losing money. He also said that he doesn't believe that Tampa's salary structure works very well. Maybe they need to come back!!!!! He also mentioned that if every team spent to the salary cap limit that the players would be sending money back to the owners through escrow payments.

When questions were asked, the obligatory "Why did you trade Richard Zednik?" question has been replaced with "Why haven't you signed Peter Bondra?"

Going off on a rant here, folks, you are worse than the Confederacy. It's over. He's gone. He isn't coming back. Get over it. After he was traded, Ottawa paid him $1 million to go away. After the lockout, he had to beg Atlanta for a minimum incentive laden contract (Turning down more guaranteed money from the Caps.) Atlanta wouldn't give him another contract for this season and we're almost three weeks into the season now and NOBODY ELSE IN THE NHL HAS OFFERED PETER BONDRA A CONTRACT. For what insanely little it is worth, Rumor Boy (who does not need a link) has been saying that the only teams still interested in him are Detroit, Toronto, and the New York Rangers, but they haven’t offered him a contract. If you add all of this together you would realize that it means something. Folks, he's done. Let it go.

Anyway, getting back to the point, Ted tap danced around that question and mentioned that after winning back-to-back Southeast Division Titles in 2000-2001, the Caps were told "you need another big scorer." So the Caps went out and got Jagr and in 2001-2002, missed the playoffs altogether (So the Caps went out and got Jagr and in 2001-2002 missed the playoffs....). The Caps were then told "you need a #1 center" and went out and got Robert Lang. The Caps made the playoffs in 2002-2003 but were gone after six games in the first round. The Caps were then told "you need two big defensemen" and Ted threw in the towel. He said that "all teams need something" and that he does not believe that the high priced UFA's worked anymore under the "new NHL." He mentioned that the Caps were pushed to get Dan McGillis and Alexander Mogilny after the lockout and pointed out that neither player has worked out in the "new NHL."

Other little odds and ends tidbits, he said that the Caps were trying to get a radio station outlet in Bhawlmuher. So that the Baltimorons could continue to ignore the Caps as they pursue their own NHL team? He cited the drop in the (Com)Post's circulation since he has taken over the Caps as his reason for reaching out to bloggers like myself. Problem is, instead of paying for and reading a physical paper that takes up space, people are reading newspapers online for free. He also mentioned that he no longer gets angry when "traditional" media outlets like certain Crypt Keeperesque local sportscasters or newspapers give the Caps little or no coverage. Ted also said that Washington Sports and Entertainment will not release the club seats for individual game sales until the upper and lower bowls are sold out for that game.

Finally, Ted said that he isn't getting as many e-mails as he used to. He isn't sure if everybody is happy with the team and the way things are going or if they just don't care anymore. So, folks tell Ted what you think good or bad at "washingtoncaps" over at aol dot com. You may only get a two word reply but please be civil. He doesn't have to do these things for us.

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