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More on the Caps and the media

By Kareem El-Alaily

The Caps and the Media Part 2: I’ve received a lot of feedback on my last “Media/Free Pass” post, both in the comments section as well as through back-channels. This topic clearly got people worked up whichever side they fell on, and folks clearly have some – how shall I say this diplomatically? – wide-ranging opinions on the topic. That said, I stand by what I wrote. The media let the Caps off too easy last spring and they’re doing the fanbase a huge disservice by not providing more in-depth, analytical and, if deserved, critical coverage of the Caps. The Redskins and Wizards both get that treatment. If folks want hockey to be taken seriously in D.C. it’s simply part of the growing process.

I understand that there is a fine line between criticism and downright negativity. But this city has historically never directed any true venom toward its teams the way Philly or New York City have, so I don’t understand the fear that any criticism of the Caps would snowball into animosity. If the worst I’ve seen locally was the very deserved reaction to the 2009 Redskins, then the Caps will be okay.

So let me pose the question to you (with more after the poll):

Uncle Ted:  Some of the comments to my last blog post were pointed towards Caps owner Ted Leonsis, leaving me a bit perplexed about where this anger is coming from. The man has done just about everything right for this franchise. It’s his job to set a budget and sign checks. He does that. He’s also made himself fully available to fans and personally made the game day experience one of the best in all of sports. Most owners don’t bother dealing with fans, but Ted has taken the courageous stance to deal with fans through thick and thin. That’s why he’s one of the best owners in North American sports. This region should be thankful that he’s running two of its Big Four pro teams.

College Hockey: Two weeks ago I made a proclamation that UMBC Hockey would win a local club hockey tournament over other talented area teams such as VT and Navy. Well, the Hokies made a statement by beating a favored UMBC 3-1 on the road on October 9. Make no mistake: UMBC is a very good team – a likely ACHA Division 2 national champion contender – and recently swept their three games at the ACHA D2 Showcase in very impressive fashion. That makes what VT did all the more impressive. It looks like the Hokies are making a run at their first ever nationals appearance this year. Good luck to them, and that’s coming from a Wahoo!

By Box Seats blogger  | October 19, 2010; 2:14 PM ET
Categories:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  | Tags:  Capitals, Kareem El-Alaily  
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Next: That fateful season: was it worth it?


Your comments about Ted Leonsis are absolutely right on target. He is one of the finest team owners in North America, period. DC should be grateful to have him.

Posted by: StevefromSacto | October 19, 2010 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought your original post was a little harsh in your criticism of the team--I think it still remains to be seen if the team did the right thing in the offseason, but I am more concerned with each game--but right on target in its criticism of the media. I had been thinking the exact same thing. Take the Post: There were zero opinion columns in the Post the entire summer analyzing the teams' offseason moves, and the only two columns that appeared before the season started had the exact same theme--how do you make it through the regular season when only the playoffs matter--and even quoted the same player, Brooks Laich, and no one else. Then Hamilton's column about the goalies on opening night said the Caps had 11 rookies on their opening night roster--a ridiculous error that I can't believe she or an editor could actually allow in a column if they truly followed the team. They may not have been experts about hockey and the Caps three years ago, but there's no reason they shouldn't have a decent knowledge of the team by now.

Posted by: TheFingerman | October 19, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

In this town, mediocrity in hockey means less coverage. Success means more coverage. What did you want, a ton of coverage about how bad the Caps were for five days last season?
It seems that you're referring to The Post's lack of quality in hockey columnists. If just one of them really knew hockey and wrote more often about it, then more criticism would more likely shine through.

Posted by: benjaminsumner | October 19, 2010 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Maybe what some fans want is a "Tom Boswell of hockey" (Boz does some fine Caps columns when he wants to but clearly baseball will always be his first love). They want at least one columnist who lives and breathes hockey, knows it and is passionate about it, and isn't going to restate the obvious in their columns.

The only thing I'd suggest is since Tarik was an experienced (covering the Islands in NY) hockey reporter before he came here, it would be nice if the Post beat the bushes for an experienced hockey columnist (even one who has spent years covering some team Caps fans hate) who could write about both the Caps and NHL issues in general. Lure one from Canada if necessary. :)

Posted by: blackjack65 | October 19, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

While I didn't respond to your first entry (I respectfully think your writing, and that of your Box Seats colleagues, is unprofessional), I do have a thought re: your statement about Ted Leonsis being "one of the best owners in North American sports"...

Leonsis has been majority owner of the Caps 11 years, the Mystics 5 years. In this time, the Caps have gone 1-7 in playoff series, missing the playoffs 5 of the 11 years Ted's been majority owner; the Mystics have gone 0-3 in playoff series, missing the playoffs 2 of the 5 years he's been majority owner.

If you're keeping up, that's a 9-7 record for making the playoffs and a 1-10 record in the playoffs once there. This is "one of the best in North American sports"?

There's no question Ted deserves credit for what he's done as far as emailing fans, painting steps red, and installing beer cup holders in rest rooms. But, ironically, in an article about the media being soft with the local team, you deem its owner "one of the best in North American sports"? Really?

What about the owners of the:

Anaheim Ducks,
Carolina Hurricanes,
Chicago Blackhawks,
Colorado Avalanche,
Detroit Red Wings,
Detroit Shock,
New Jersey Devils,
Phoenix Mercury,
Pittsburgh Penguins,
Seattle Storm, and
Tampa Bay Lightning?

All of these teams have won championships in the sports leagues that Ted's teams have competed over the years. The Red Wings, Shock, Devils, and Mercury have each won TWO. What adjective would use use to describe THESE owners?

Calling Ted "one of the best owners in North American sports" in an article about media giving local sports teams "free passes" is amateurish. As a courtesy, I've excluded from my reply references to owners in the NFL and MLB as well as, oh, the Canadian and Mexican Football Leagues.

North America is a pretty big land mass. Ted, I assure you, is hardly "one of the best"... but thanks for playing.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | October 19, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse


My memory is gones at to when Leonsis bought the Caps but I believe he bought it a year or two before the lockout. 11 years would have put him owning the Caps during the teams finest hour- 98 SC finals against Redwings. As for the Mystics, he took over this summer when he bought out Pollen's widow. This does not detract from your main point. However, Ted does treat his fans better than the Danny, the Lerners, and poor, clueless dispirted Wil Chang.

Posted by: adhardwick | October 20, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

You make a blog post about how DC isn't a hockey town, and then are perplexed when the media doesn't have column after column analyzing the Caps?

Posted by: GFisher1 | October 20, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

My memory is gones at to when Leonsis bought the Caps but I believe he bought it a year or two before the lockout. 11 years would have put him owning the Caps during the teams finest hour- 98 SC finals against Redwings.

Posted by: adhardwick

Abe Pollin owned the team in 97- 98. Ted bought the team in 99 and had ZERO to do with the Caps making the Stanley Cup Finals. Ted may treat the fans well as you say -- aside from the unfortunate wrastlin' the fan on the concourse incident -- but his record speaks for itself. He is far from being one of the best sports owners in US professional sports, much less North America.

Posted by: capscapscaps2 | October 20, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

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