October 22, 2014

Caps Promote MacLellan: Inspired or status quo?

[ed. The original version of the post misspelled Brian MacLellan's name in several places (including the headline!). We apologize for the poor copy editing.]

During the press conference announcing that George McPhee would not be retained as general manager of the Washington Capitals, owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick both spoke of the organization needing a “new direction” with the general manager position.

From the press release, attributed to Mr. Leonsis: “This is an important time for our organization, and I feel a change is needed in order to get us back to being a top echelon team that competes for the Stanley Cup.”

Mr. Leonsis then went on the radio and told 106.7 The Fan the following:

“And so you come to that realization that our upside is being capped now, and we’re probably better served at bringing in a fresh set of eyes and a fresh set of voices, and empowering a new team, a new group of executives, and listening to them, and listening to what they would do, because all we want to do is win a Stanley Cup.”

Monday, we found out who will be that “fresh set of eyes.” We got a name for the “new group of executives.” It’s someone who isn’t fresh or new at all.

The Capitals promoted assistant general manager Brian MacLellan — a college teammate of George McPhee’s and a Caps’ employee for 13 years — to senior vice-president and general manager. They also hired Barry Trotz, a long-time coach in the Caps’ system, as the new head coach.

Trotz has 15 years of experience as a head coach in the NHL and has a reputation that says he will bring intensity, structure and discipline to the ice. All of those things are good. Trotz will demand a commitment to a two-way system, stressing responsibility to team – and teammates.

MacLellan has no history other than first filling multiple roles in the Caps developmental system, then as George McPhee’s protégé.

I don’t want to be critical without acknowledging that the hiring of MacLellan might be an inspired choice. He is said to be well-versed in analytics and “fancy stats” and he owns an MBA and worked at an investment consulting firm before beginning his career as an executive in the NHL. Those things are good.

But we don’t have any idea because he’s never had that opportunity to be the decision-maker. He has no track record.

What we do know is that when given the opportunity to make the most important hire in the history of his franchise, Mr. Leonsis played it safe, hiring the in-house candidate.

There are several GM jobs available around the NHL. Did anyone see MacLellan’s name on the list of interviewees? Was he considered a “hot commodity” assistant, like Brad Treliving (now GM in Calgary), Jim Benning in Boston, Jason Botterill in Pittsburgh, among others?

Much less, did anyone see MacLellan’s name among veteran GMs looking for work, like Ray Shero and Craig Button.

“After conducting an extensive search for a general manager, we determined that Brian was the best candidate to help us reach our ultimate goal, winning the Stanley Cup,” Leonsis said via press release Monday. “

“We have witnessed his abilities firsthand, and we have tremendous respect for how he manages people and situations. We feel he has relevant, in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of our franchise and will be forceful in addressing them. Brian always has displayed tremendous professionalism, passion and commitment to the Capitals. He has his own unique approach, and we are confident in his abilities to lead this organization to new heights.”

MacLellan, as assistant GM, was in charge of pro scouting. Isn’t that one of the places most folks would look on this team as say, ‘Aren’t they overestimating their own guys?’ One would have to assume MacLellan played an instrumental part in evaluating players for returns on trades. Isn’t that another area where the Caps have had a red flag during the McPhee administration?

I get that we don’t have the best idea of what MacLellan brings to the table. He might have had his ideas shot down by McPhee… or Leonsis. But that’s sort of the point.

The Capitals organization had the opportunity to show all of hockey, and the fans in this market, just how serious it was to compete for a Stanley Cup. By staying in-house and hiring an assistant GM that wasn’t on anyone else’s radar, they certainly made a statement.

Mr. Leonsis and Mr. Patrick made the safe, comfortable decision. They chose to promote from within rather than bring in a truly outside voice, one that might question decisions and offer counter opinions to the group-think at Kettler.

For those that wanted true change, they will be sorely disappointed with this hire. Only time will tell if it was the right decision.

D.C has only been waiting for 40 years.

Monumental Sports & Entertainment Creates Version of Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” Video

The District of Columbia has basketball fever and everyone is happy that the Wiz Kids are back in DC tonight to host the Pacers for game six of the NBA playoffs. Check out the fun video that MSE released. Warning: This tune is catchy and will stick in your head all day (that is not necessarily a bad thing!).

The video features Monumental Sports & Entertainment majority owner and chairman Ted Leonsis, MSE partners, District of Columbia mayor Vincent C. Gray, District of Columbia councilwoman and mayoral incumbent Muriel Bowser, District of Columbia councilman Jack Evans, Bullets alumni Gheorghe Muresan and Bob Dandridge, Wizards Radio Network broadcaster Dave Johnson and analyst Glenn Consor, Fox News’ Brett Baier, Comcast SportsNet’s Chris Miller, Ron Thompson, Gary Williams and Michael Jenkins, and WUSA 9’s Derek McGinty, Jan Jeffcoat, Topper Shutt and Dave Owens. The video also features members of the D.C. Fire Department and Emergency Services, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Army Band, G-Wiz, the Wizard Girls, Wizards fans and MSE staff.

OPINION: Capitals sack McPhee, Oates; Leonsis and Patrick now on the hook

When the head coach completely disregards the main trade deadline acquisition you’ve acquired — two years in a row — you know there’s a problem.

Saturday, the Washington Capitals announced they would not renew general manager George McPhee’s contract, thus terminating a 17-year partnership. In addition, the team relieved their two-year head coach Adam Oates of his duties.

Owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick spoke with effusive praise for both men, reassuring all in attendance at the press conference and those watching on the internet that neither men would be unemployed for very long. In McPhee’s case, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was named GM of the Canucks or Flames before he meets with the media on Monday afternoon in D.C.

Oates was a no-brainer. He misapplied assets, was inflexible and presided over a team that steadily got worse and worse possession-wise under his tutelage. Though the players — to a man — praised him on clearout day and decried that he was not the problem, in reality he was a significant portion of it this season.

As for McPhee, well…

I’ll go on record here. I think George McPhee is one of the smartest men in hockey. He keeps his business in-house, is professional under all circumstances (well, except for this), a fairly strong drafter and is a shrewd negotiator. He was responsible for the fire sale and rebuild, and has kept this team in the playoffs for the past seven years. Until this season.

McPhee has also completed some very head-scratching trades, had a couple of very notable busts in the first round of the draft, and built a team that was perennial successful but never able to get past the second round, winning just three playoff series in the Ovechkin era. He never acquired the defensive stalwart this team needed so badly.

The Caps were destined to fail this season, and it’s been coming for a while. Really, it’s been coming since they allowed their identity to be stolen following the 2010 flame-out against the Montreal Canadiens. They abandoned the high-powered, puck possession style that dominated the NHL and won a President’s Trophy and it’s been a steady decline ever since.

Bruce Boudreau was ousted, Dale Hunter fled, and now Oates is jettisoned after just two seasons.

There are a lot of executives employed across the NHL that don’t have half the acumen that McPhee has. Pray the Caps don’t end up with one of them. Change is exciting, and probably warranted in this case. But things could get worse before they get better. Will modern Caps fans — the ones that came on board as fans of the “Young Guns” — be willing to stay on through a rebuild, with a possible teardown of those players they fell in love with?

Veteran Caps fans will remember some very lean years. I’m not just talking the doldrums the team was in before they sold off Bondra, Jagr, Gonchar, Lang and Konowalchuk. I’m talking the days where there were more Red Wings fans in the arena than Caps fans in the Stanley Cup finals.   I’m talking the old days when Scott Stevens, Dino Ciccarelli and others were run out of town due to an inappropriate incident in a limousine.  I’m talking real old days, when the city almost lost the team due to complete ignorance of the District’s sporting fanbase.

You think it’s bad they missed the playoffs for the first time in seven years? You want dark days? Everything is relative, friends.

Now, let’s discuss the elephant in the room.

The Caps allowed McPhee to walk and fired Oates, under contract for another season (so they are eating that cash), yet they did not fire any of the assistant coaches. Leonsis allowed Patrick to give the news that the team does not expect to make any more changes to the staff and that they would prefer to have a manager in place before hiring a coach or conducting the NHL Draft, but don’t see that as a necessity.

Say what?

They dismissed the man that has been guiding this franchise for the past 17 seasons, yet don’t feel it’s necessary to have his replacement in place before either hiring a new coach or conducting this year’s draft? And they are retaining all the assistants, including Caps “Mt. Rushmore” members Calle Johansson and Olie Kolzig?

Really?

It’s hard not to look at this and think that Oates didn’t hire either assistant for their current position. It’s hard not to look at this — now — and think that Johansson and Kolzig were hired as public relation moves to act as a buffer to deflect criticism of the franchise out of respect for what they did as players. Neither had NHL credentials as coaches before they came here. The head coach they worked for was summarily dismissed. The GM was allowed to walk. But yet, the highly respected ex-players remain? Especially when the defense and goaltending were a source of criticism all season long, locally and nationally?

I loved Johansson and Kolzig as players as much as anyone. But their track record as coaches speaks for itself.

How can we separate Johansson and Kolzig from McPhee and Oates? How can they justify it?

The franchise is in turmoil. It’s at a crossroads. The decisions the organization — Leonsis and Patrick — make in the coming weeks and months will dictate the playing situation Alex Ovechkin will be in for the remainder of his time in D.C. Only they are responsible now. There’s no more scapegoat. There’s no more buffer or shield.

In the Ovechkin era, this organization has made promises and boasts and predictions of multiple Cups to a loyal and passionate fanbase. There’s no wonder there’s a sense of entitlement, both from the fans and the players themselves. They’ve bought in to it as much as anyone.

Make no mistake now though. Leonsis and Patrick are now directly responsible for whether or not Ovechkin takes this franchise to a Stanley Cup final that the fanbase, the team, the organization so richly think they deserve.

Here’s hoping they make the right decisions. I’m not as sure today as I was yesterday that will happen.

Capitals’ Leonsis and Patrick speak on front office changes: “New leadership at this time was needed”

Saturday morning, the Washington Capitals announced that they would not be renewing General Manager George McPhee’s contract and that they had relieved head coach Adam Oates of his duties.

McPhee was one of the longest tenured general managers in the National Hockey League, and he’d been with the Capitals organization since 1997. The Capitals made the playoffs for six straight years, and as irony would have it, the team would fail to make the postseason in the same year as his contract was rumored to be expiring.

Adam Oates coached 137 games for the Capitals, an organization that he was a part of as a player as well. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the same day he was hired by the Capitals in 2012. His meticulous – some would say nitpicky – coaching style, coupled with a lackluster team performance in the regular season and failure to make the playoffs, outweighed the benefits of his accomplishments: constructing a juggernaut power play and moving Alex Ovechkin to right wing. (Ironically, Ovechkin scored more than half of his 52 goals this season playing the left wing on the power play).

It became less of a matter of “if” and more of a question as to when changes would be made. There was speculation on Thursday that changes were coming, but all talk was quickly extinguished, no doubt because the decision hadn’t been made, as we now know.

Capitals Majority Owner Ted Leonsis and Team President Dick Patrick formally addressed the media at Verizon Center late Saturday afternoon. Leonsis thanked both Oates and McPhee for the work they’d done for the Capitals organization, but said that the decision came down to the direction the team was heading.

“It came down, honestly, after all of the work that we did, and our due diligence, for Dick and I to sit down and say “do we think this team with this leadership can compete for or win a Stanley Cup going into next season?”, said Leonsis. “And our answer was obviously no, and that’s why we made the change.”

The ultimate goal for any NHL franchise is to win a Stanley Cup, and Leonsis and Patrick felt as though the leadership they had in place was not going to take them there. Leonsis admitted it was a tough day for him.

Leonsis said he and Patrick conducted exit interviews for Capitals players, but would not say what was discussed in the spirit of maintaining confidentiality and trust.

“I will say, and this is very important to that process, that when we spoke to all of the individuals [players], we said, “we know this is uncomfortable, and you should be able to tell us whatever you want or tell us nothing, but whatever you tell us is going to be between me and Dick”,  because we’re seeking out information, you want to respect that,” said Leonsis.

“I’m not going to tell you who we spoke to and what they said. I don’t think that’s appropriate,” he said. “But the bottom line, and the timeline, so everyone understands –we conducted a lot of interviews. And on Thursday, we spoke with Adam and with George. And yesterday, Dick and I compared all of our notes, and it was late in the day when we made the decision.”

“We were left with the overall impression that the team wasn’t trending towards being able to compete for a Stanley Cup. That was just a clear signal in why we felt it was time to make those changes,” Leonsis concluded. “I’d say there’s lots of noise, but the signal was that we need to get back to being totally focused on one goal.”

Patrick added that they’d like to have a new general manager in place prior to the NHL Draft on June 27-28, but that it’s not a hard deadline for them. He said the organization has people in place that are capable of handing the responsibilities of draft day if a new GM has not been hired by that time.

As for the matter of selecting a head coach, Patrick was similarly vague: “Generally speaking, we’d prefer to have the manager in place and his involvement in selecting a coach, but could happen otherwise.”

There are still many questions that bear asking and answering in the coming days, but one thing is certain: no matter what led up to the decision to fire McPhee and Oates, Leonsis and Patrick came to the decision that the franchise had lost sight of its ultimate goal of winning a Stanley Cup, and hope to set that right by starting fresh with new leadership in the Capitals’ front office.

 

 

 

 

 

Caps clean house

After failing to make the playoffs for the first time since 2007, the Washington Capitals finally made the moves many were expecting since the end of the regular season.

The team announced Saturday that the contract of general manager George McPhee would not be renewed and that head coach Adam Oates had been relieved of his duties.

McPhee became general manager of the Caps in 1997 and in that first season the team won its only conference championship. He was never able to recreate that success, however, and the team has since won only three of 12 playoff series.

McPhee is probably best known for orchestrating the fire sale that saw the team trade away its best players through the 2003-04 season in an attempt to reboot the team’s roster. The Caps’ dropped in the standings allowing them to win the draft lottery and draft Alex Ovechkin with the first overall pick in the 2004 draft.

The Capitals were rebuilt into a winning team, but not a championship team despite their talent-laden roster. McPhee has been criticized in recent years for relying too much on those core players he brought in for the rebuild and his failure to find a coach able to bring the team over the hump.

Of the five coaches McPhee hired in his tenure, Bruce Cassidy was the only one that did not have a prior relationship with the organization. Many believed McPhee was unnecessarily limiting the team’s options at head coach thus preventing the hiring of someone with the championship pedigree the Caps so desperately needed.

Oates was McPhee’s final hire as head coach and joins his now former boss in unemployment.

Despite the team’s initial success in Oates’ first lockout-abbreviated season, his first full season was a shocking failure as the team failed to reach the postseason.

Much of the blame for that failure was laid at Oates’ feet due to the number of curious decisions he made during his tenure. From mandating  that players play only on their shooting side to promoting fourth line anchor Jay Beagle to the top line alongside Ovechkin, fans and analysts alike have watched the past season with utter confusion.

Oates was brought in after serving as assistant coach in Tampa Bay and New Jersey where he was known for his offensive acumen and running a lethal power play. He was indeed able to reignite the Caps’ power play, but did little else for a team loaded with talent.

Oates also bumped players such as Martin Erat and Dustin Penner, down to the fourth line in favor of those who better fit his ‘system.’ Moves such as those demonstrated a clear disconnect between coach and general manager as both were players acquired by trades while Oates was coach. By choosing not to fully utilize either player, Oates showed that clearly he and McPhee had very different ideas on the team’s direction.

That direction, however, brought them both to the same destination.

Though his inability to build a championship team ultimately cost him his job, it is important not to dismiss McPhee’s accomplishments while in D.C. The Caps had little history of success prior to McPhee’s tenure and he managed to build a consistent winner out or a struggling franchise.

Analysts have already brought up his name in connection to other jobs, such as the recent opening in Vancouver where McPhee previously served as vice president and director of hockey operations.

The future is much more cloudy for Oates, who lasted only two seasons in his first NHL head coaching gig.

Oates was an extremely successful assistant and I’m guessing more teams believe that is the role he is best suited for at the NHL level. His only success in Washington was for those same duties he performed as an assistant, namely the power play.

Based on what we saw in Washington, hiring Oates as a head coach would mean completely shifting the way that organization approaches and thinks about hockey. Teams would have to be willing to go through such a transformation before taking a chance on Oates. Sometimes, those coaches can change the game.

Sometimes, however, those philosophies don’t pan out. That was the case for the Caps.

As for what the next step for the Caps may be, expect owner Ted Leonsis to hire a general manager first. General managers tend to prefer their own coaching hires so to hire a coach first would be putting the cart before the horse. For that reason, predicting the next coach is nearly impossible as we don’t know what the new general manager may be looking for.

Given the state of the team and the organization’s frustration over their postseason struggles, however, Leonsis will look for a general manager with a championship pedigree and most likely demand a coach with similar success.

Those type of candidates don’t grow on trees, but it is critical that Leonsis do whatever is necessary in order to make the right hires this offseason.

Though many were expecting and advocating for the team to replace McPhee and Oates, it is important to remember that this was only the first step. Cleaning house was the right move if and only if the team makes the right hires to replace them. If not, the Caps will end up right back in this same disappointing position a lot faster than they may expect.

All quiet on the Kettler front (for now)

Despite some conflicting reports the other day from two trusted sources (and both good friends), it’s been almost two weeks since the end of the Washington Capitals season, and the fates of GM George McPhee and head coach Adam Oates are still unknown.

To recap: the team announced on breakdown day that McPhee had met with owner Ted Leonsis and president Dick Patrick, and would not address the media that day. Later in the day. McPhee did poke his head out and verified that yes, he did meet with the brass and that they would meet again but he would not speak until that happened. He has not spoken to the media since.

On the same day, Oates did address the media and indicated that he had not spoken with McPhee, Leonsis or Patrick and was not scheduled to. He also informed the media that he did not have exit interviews scheduled with the players and hoped he would have the opportunity to address them before they and he left town for the summer. There has been no report of that happening and Oates has not spoken to the media since either.

It’s very possible the team is still debating about retaining McPhee and leaving Oates in limbo until a decision is made with the general manager.

Meanwhile, there have been very few rumors around the NHL about other GMs and coaches on the hot seat. Usually by this time, there are a number of coaching availabilities, but the only coach to be sacked thus far was Barry Trotz by Nashville.

Where does this leave us? Pretty much the same place as we were on breakdown day, unfortunately. Let’s take a look at the options [note: our good friends at RMNB have already discussed these scenarios. This is my take, albeit much less funny.]:

1) Blow It Up

The team could allow McPhee’s contract to expire (it reportedly runs out after the draft) and fire Oates. Leonsis has never fired a general manager in his stewardship of either the Caps or the Wizards, and the time this is taking might speak to his reluctance to do so.

In his only comments to the media (through his personal blog), Leonsis said the team would take a meticulous look at the status of the franchise and not make any rash decisions based simply on missing the playoffs this season. But the team DID miss the playoffs, where Leonsis makes a bulk of his operating revenue and missing out hurts his bottom line as much as it does the goodwill his team has built in the sporting community in DC.

The criticisms of McPhee and Oates have been well documented, in this space and throughout the Caps blogosphere — as well as the national media. The team was ill-equipped to start the season, then mismanaged throughout. The team played without an identity, functional on offense almost solely dependent on the power play and completely inept on the defensive end. They were one of the worst possession teams in the league, and the coach appeared inflexible to change and unwilling to adapt.

2) Rearrange deck chairs

The team could keep McPhee (presumably on double-secret probation) and dump Oates to hire their fourth coach in three calendar years. In my mind, this option is the favorite in this race.

There are several attractive coaching candidates available already, from the aforementioned Trotz to Peter Laviolette, and as teams are eliminated from the playoffs there would be any number of attractive assistants available. Many have decried McPhee’s proclivity to hire former Caps and first-time head coaches to helm the team. If he returns, you have to imagine he’ll be influenced to bring in an experienced coach, preferably one with a Stanley Cup resume. Those guys are few and far between, though.

3) Maintain Status Quo

The team could stay the course and keep both McPhee and Oates. They could speak to continuity, injuries (though not a valid excuse) and the power play as reasons to keep both McPhee and Oates. This could also spur a mutiny. Many (most) Caps fans are at a boiling point, having become accustomed to postseason play, if not success.

It’s hard to imagine no change to the braintrust. Missing the playoffs is simply inexcusable. There are gaps in the talent, for sure. But there is simply too much of it for this collection of athletes to miss out on the second season. The Caps have $14 million under the salary cap with which to work this offseason, and could make even more room if they can find takers for — or buy out — Brooks Laich or Mike Green’s contracts.
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It’s hard to say which of the above scenarios the salary cap space affects most.

At the very least, we’ll see changes to the personnel. The Caps need to decide on Mikhail Grabovski, probably find a depth center to allow Eric Fehr to go back to wing, and 2-3 NHL caliber defensemen. It’s a long shopping list, but they have quiet a bit of cash to work with.

At this point, I would advocate for option number two. I fear the executive the team brings in if they sack McPhee. The NHL is littered with folks in evaluative positions that I would find unpalatable. Call me coward, but I’ll go with the devil I know in this case. McPhee is a shrewd negotiator, has a good (maybe not great) track record in the draft, and has proven adept at finding productive bargains, both on the free agent wire and via trade.

I think his hand might have been forced in a couple of recent moves, and it will be interesting if he is retained how he conducts his business going forward. I maintain that the moves he made at the deadline were not the moves of a man fearing for his job. The deals for Dustin Penner (who should have helped this team immensely, instead of the player getting banished to the fourth line) and Jaroslav Halak brought in veteran players for the stretch drive, yes. But they were also on expiring contracts and McPhee shed the contracts of Martin Erat (another resident of Oates’ Siberia) and Michal Neuvirth.

For now, though, we all wait.

CAPS/WIZARDS/MYSTICS: Happy Birthday, Ted Leonsis

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
TED LEONSIS!

(Majority Owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment that owns and operates the
Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics)

Theodore J. Leonsis was born on January 8, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York.
We sound like a broken record, but its still all true……
Thank you Ted for reaching out to the Caps fans, for being supportive of new media, for linking to our photos and articles often and welcoming District Sports Page on launch day.  You are the best owner in sports. Happy Birthday! Let’s Go Caps!
Caps owner Ted Leonsis with Wayne Gretzky ("The Great One") at the Canadians v. Caps game, 11/22/2013 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps owner Ted Leonsis with Wayne Gretzky (“The Great One”) at the Canadians v. Caps game, 11/22/2013 (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps owner Ted Leonsis thanked the fans during second overtime, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps owner Ted Leonsis thanked the fans during second overtime, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)


Ted is usually in his Verizon Center box for every Caps game and
often looks down to the players like a proud papa.

Ted’s book proved to draw interest from Caps fans of all ages.

Ted even “represents” at the games sometimes.
(2010 Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

OPINION: Washington Capitals team will be tough to “blow up”

Last season, the eighth place team in the Eastern Conference had 92 points, roughly 1.12 points per game. In this lockout-shortened season, that works out to about 54 points. After Tuesday night’s 3-2 loss at home to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Washington Capitals record stands at 2-7-1 (five points), a 24-point pace for the season.

In order to garner those 54 points to have a chance to qualify for the playoffs, the Caps need an additional 51 points, equivalent to a 22-9-7 record for the remaining 38 games of the season. For reference, that’s a 110-point pace over the course of a regular 82-game schedule.

So now that we’ve identified how difficult it will be for the Caps to qualify for the playoffs after the horrendous start they’ve played to so far, the more appropriate question at this point may be where, exactly, do the Caps go from here? [Read more...]

CAPS/WIZARDS/MYSTICS: Happy Birthday, Ted Leonsis

HAPPY BIRTHDAY
TED LEONSIS!

(Majority Owner of Monumental Sports & Entertainment that owns and operates the
Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards and Washington Mystics)

Theodore J. Leonsis was born on January 8, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York.
Great news that the NHL lockout is over and fans can Rock the Red and fill Verizon Center again soon.

Thank you Ted for reaching out to the Caps fans, for being supportive of new media, for linking to our photos often and welcoming District Sports Page on launch day.  You are the best owner in sports. Happy Birthday! Let’s Go Caps!

Caps owner Ted Leonsis thanked the fans during second overtime, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Caps owner Ted Leonsis thanked the fans during second overtime, May 2, 2012 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)


Ted is usually in his Verizon Center box for every Caps game and
often looks down to the players like a proud papa.

Ted’s book proved to draw interest from Caps fans of all ages.

Ted even “represents” at the games sometimes.
(2010 Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Cheryl Nichols is a Columnist and Photographer for District Sports Page. She is credentialed to cover the Washington Capitals and has reported on the community service and fan events for Nats News Network and Caps News Network since 2006. Cheryl is an accomplished action photographer and has been published in The Washington Post and many other local media. She was a credentialed photographer for the 2010 season covering the Washington Nationals. You can follow her on Twitter @cnichols14.

Do the Washington Capitals risk part of their fan base if they miss the playoffs?

If the Washington Capitals fail to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs do they risk losing a significant portion of their fan base?

The Washington, D.C. market fan base has long been a target of ridicule from other cities. Fans of other cities up and down (but mostly, up) the east coast often chide D.C. fans as being unapologetic, less-than sophisticated homers — bandwagoners if you will — cheering for the teams of the region when they’re winning and forgetting about them when they struggle. It’s a fair criticism.

This town is transient by nature. Hardly anybody that lives here is from here. Entire neighborhoods turn over every few years. It’s no secret that many families have dual allegiances: parents fans of the teams they grew up with in other parts of the country, kids rooting for the locals because that’s where they are growing up. [Read more...]

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