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Ovechkin's Mom, Leonsis Talk Olympics


(2006 file photo - Getty Images)


Here's an Olympics update from our unofficial Russian correspondent, Slava Malamud of Russia's Sport-Express:

At the All-Star Game in Montreal earlier this year, Penguins star Evgeni Malkin stated in an interview that he, Alex Ovechkin and Atlanta's Ilya Kovalchuk would all be present in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, despite the fact that the NHL has no commitment to take part in the games.

"I will be in Sochi one hundred percent," Malkin told me at the time. "This is the most important competition for me. And I am sure that Ovechkin and Kovalchuk will do the same. We have talked and agreed [on this]."

When I followed up with Ovechkin a few minutes later, he confirmed this with a simple "yes."

Even for the new, non-Soviet-bred generation of players who grew up playing EA Sports on their Playstations and dreaming of winning the Stanley Cup, the Olympics still have an irresistible appeal. And the fact that this will be their only chance to play in the Winter Games on home soil makes it a real no-brainer.

The importance of having Russian NHL stars play in Sochi cannot be overstated. It is well understood that the issue will make or break the hockey tournament and with it, the Games themselves. This is only the second Olympics in Russia's history, and the first, in Moscow in 1980, were boycotted. It is a matter of national pride not to come up short this time.

The NHL's brightest stars are full of quiet and not-so-quiet resolve to break loose from North America no matter what the league's bosses decide. For Ovechkin, who was recently named Sochi's Olympic ambassador, and his family, it is a settled issue.

"How can [Commissioner Gary] Bettman not let them play?" fumed Ovechkin's mother, Tatyana, in a recent conversation with me. "Doesn't he understand what Olympics are? Let him read books! Let him study history! They stopped wars in ancient Greece for the Olympics. Wars! And he can't stop his league for two weeks? This is nonsense!"

Tatyana, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in basketball, knows what she is talking about when she expresses the importance the Games have for Russian athletes. What she may not know is that Bettman is not the only decision-maker.

It's possible that Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis could give Ovechkin permission to go back to Russia for the Olympics, but he could also suspend the star winger should he leave without clearing it with the team.

Below is the transcript of my interview with Leonsis after the home opener on Saturday. In the opinion of this reporter, it leaves little doubt that the Olympic issue may indeed become an extremely contentious one very soon. (I should also note here that Ovechkin's mother is extremely fond of Leonsis and has called him a "dream boss" on numerous occasions.)

This being an Olympic year, do you have any concerns about the team breaking its momentum or the Russians getting worn out?

I haven't even thought about it. If it [does happen], what are you going to do? They have got to play in the Olympics and [even though] we don't want to get them hurt, all the great players will be there; we are all in the same boat.

What is your position on the Olympics, looking ahead to Sochi in 2014?

It's a players' league, you know, and the players want to do it. And they should have a strong voice. We will support them, but if I were a player, I would be asking, 'Where is all that money going?' Somebody is getting paid billions and billions of dollars and the players aren't, the league is not. ...

It puts a lot of the people who are employed by our buildings out of work because people are paid by the game and by the day. And one day, someone is going to lose a great player. Even though we have insurance, if someone suffers a career-ending injury and can't sign that next contract, people will start to think twice. So, I don't think it's that clear of an answer as: 'I love my country; I want to go play.'

With the new collective bargaining agreement coming, you know it's going to be an issue, and you will have a vote on it. You know Ovechkin's position. Taking all this into consideration, which way are you leaning?

Why do I have to answer [about] something that is five years from now?

The CBA is up two years from now.

Yes, so let the players organize and come to us with the things that are important to them. But there will have to be a tradeoff. If that's really, really important to them, fine, but it costs us a lot of money. So we are going to get something back.

Look, I've got Alex's back, but I've sat down and tried to explain to Alex: 'The Olympics are going to market around you. It's billions of dollars! Billions with a B! The NHL doesn't get a penny, the KHL doesn't get a penny, the players don't get a penny.'

At some point, with the players so driven by dollars, they will get it. Someone is making a lot of money, and it's not us. So, I don't think it's that easy to say: 'It's in Russia, it's in Vancouver, we should play.' But, if the players want something, they usually get what they want. I just think they need to think it through.


Leonsis ended the interview by playfully growling, 'Don't ask me any more questions about the Olympics again!' Something tells me this will not be a request I can meet.

By Slava Malamud  |  October 4, 2009; 1:16 PM ET
 
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Comments

Let the players decide...Without the players, the NHL would be nothing...

But if the players must assume thier own risks, and buy insurance for themselves, then so be it...sometimes you got to pay to play.

Posted by: SA-Town | October 4, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

You tell him, Tatyana!

Posted by: uncatim | October 4, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I can definitely see both sides. Although I don't see the teams LOSING money (it's still an 82-game season) so much as not getting a piece of the action in the actual Olympics.

What remains to be seen is whether the players will show a united front if the owners try to use this as a bargaining chip...Will Olympic involvement be AS important to the NHLPA as a whole (not just the superstars who are locks to represent their countries in Sochi) that they'd be willing to concede in other areas?

Posted by: Hatfield223 | October 4, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

One small point I do not get from Leonsis' argument about building employees...he said that people who work in the stadiums get payed game by game or day by day....well, this year, even in an olympic year, each team still has an 82 game schedule, and will have 41 of those games played in their venues (just like any other year). So, I am assuming those employees will still get paid...(not to mention all the new economic opportunities available for people building and working in the olympic venues...)

I would also assume that during the two-three weeks olympic break, many venues will be able to schedule non-hockey related events in their buildings, thus creating even more employment opportunities...

Oh well, minor point.

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | October 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

""The Olympics are going to market around you. It's billions of dollars! Billions with a B! The NHL doesn't get a penny, the KHL doesn't get a penny, the players don't get a penny.'""

That offends me. Not everything is about money, Teddy.
You can't put a price on who you are. Russians haven't forgot who they are and they are willing to put it on the line.
Teddy only worries about who's making the money out of it. Who cares? Not everything is about money.

Posted by: SlavaKM | October 4, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The Olympics isn't just about money, its also about the spirit of the Games and watching all the world class athletes compete at their best for the sake of their country and their sport. I defnitely hope the NHL goes to Sochi and I am looking forward to seeing Ovie play there...good luck to the players in this battle!
PS: Go Ovie's Mom!

Posted by: hockeyfan8 | October 4, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis is once again completely full of it and showing his true colors. Players play in the Olympics because of the love of the game and the love of country. Leonsis shows that all he cares about is his love of the green.

He feigns concern for the employees, but not one home date is missed, all 41 home dates happen. The two week Olympic break costs the owners money...really? How much money is lost Ted, answer that question. How about the free publicity that hockey receives, because more eyes watch Olympic hockey than watch the Stanley Cup Finals and will expose Alex, Sidney, Evgeni and Patrick (Kane) to more people than the current Versus contract.

More proof that Ted cares about money and not the sport.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | October 4, 2009 2:26 PM | Report abuse

@hockeyfan8 and @freakinandpeakin

THANK YOU!
That is exactly how i feel too.

"NHL doesnt get a penny, KHL doesn't get a penny, Players don't get a penny...and most importantly, I don't get a penny"

Posted by: SlavaKM | October 4, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

i heart momma ovechkin!!

and you wonder where ovie gets his toughness from? :D

Posted by: spinner-33 | October 4, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Why does it matter so much that someone else is getting paid? I can see the argument that putting people who live paycheck to paycheck out of work for two weeks is rough, but this is a seasonal game in which the team is only there half the time they must have something figured out. At the end of the day I absolutely love the NHL, but it's simply not bigger than the Olympics. How can we say that the lack of a transfer agreement is cause to boycott games that are thousands of years old? This is crazy, and my guess is it will be resolved in the players favor.

Posted by: dcfury | October 4, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

What Mr. Leonsis is failing to tell us, as an investor himself, is that the person(s) being paid billions are also investing billions. Neither the NHL nor the players are being asked to invest a penny. Investing, as Mr. Leonsis knows, is a risk/reward proposition. Sometimes the Olympics loses money; sometimes they break even; and sometimes the make a profit. Mr. Leonsis is a capitalist as much as any human on Earth and he knows darned well that only the risktakers (the investors) share in the profits.

He also knows he can invest in the Olympics if he wants to. I'm sure there are ways to buy a piece of the action. The NHL should do this as part of the NHL Network.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 4, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and this:

I don't think the Caps can win the ECF or the Cup without a true, shutdown defenseman.

This player is not needed until the deadline. Also, Brendan Witt is not that player IMO.

I agree ShaMo played very well yesterday, but the crease was not cleared all game. We filled one of the two glaring holes (Knuble and also Laich is playing in front of their net) but the other one is currently, as they say at work, an "open req."

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 4, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't think I'd want to cross Mamma Ovechkin.

Posted by: mercedeskk | October 4, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

To further clarify, the NHL Network could pay for rights and then broadcast some of the non-prime games (Estonia vs France) that the regular network won't show because they have Peggy Fleming skating or something. The NHL Netowrk could also have interviews and such. Because the players share in the revenue pie, you can bet they'd be up for this. I would rather watch Estonia vs France than pais figure skating. I would pay a NHL Network premium for coverage during the Olympics.

You want a piece of the action? Don't just ask for it - figure out a way to get it. I have a lot of respect for Mr. Leonsis and I'm not saying anything he doesn't know, so I'm presuming he's on orders from Bettman to quote the party (owners') line.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 4, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

I think this is an absurd subject to talk about at this time. Let's get through these 2010 Olympics. Let's focus on our season this year. I agree with Ted, why worry now about something in 5 years.
The players will decide what they want to do in 2 years. For the time being, it is an unnecessary and unwarrented distraction.

Posted by: ken_berlin | October 4, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

Okay so all of a sudden we are thinking about the 2014 Olympics.

If i can please ask a question....if it is such a big deal for 2014? Are NHL players in the 2010 one? If yes, why would 2014 not be the same?

Is it due to CBA?

thank you in advance to the most educated class of fans in the world.

Posted by: hunter32 | October 4, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

@hockeyfan8 and @freakinandpeakin

THANK YOU!
That is exactly how i feel too.

"NHL doesnt get a penny, KHL doesn't get a penny, Players don't get a penny...and most importantly, I don't get a penny"

Posted by: SlavaKM |
I totally agree with all of you! its not about the money.ted is saying that all the players should care about money LIKE HIM.thats wrong teddy! i surely dont have money and still would think about myself and my country first.just shows that money is greed and without it there nothing.its sad!i'm not rich but i sure am happy.and i still dont understand why if its not an issue for the players to play in the olympics this year,then why is it an issue in russia in 2014?could someone explain it to me? GO CAPS!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | October 4, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Anybody else find it awesome that in 1,431 votes on the Ovechkin poll, not a single person thinks he'll score less than 50?

Posted by: Raber | October 4, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

They have no problem with their players participating in the World Championships or the Canada Cup / World Cup, so then the issue must be about stopping the season for 2 weeks, rather than the injury risk. It all sounds like a power play (no pun intended) by the owners to make it a bargaining chip for the next CBA. And as for them not getting thing out of it... it promotes the sport of hockey and (if you let them participate) the biggest stars in your league!

I side with the players.

Posted by: chombie13 | October 4, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

For once I disagree with Ted and am totally in agreement with Ovechkin's mom. People here just don't get what a big deal it is for everyone else. For some reason, for most North Americans (this is my observation from talking to many people here online and off) the Olympics are just some weird event when they are forced to watch sports they don't normally care about and they can't wait to get back to following domestic leagues.

That's totally not how it is for Russians, Swedes, etc. For us the Olympics is THE EVENT. It is completely above anything else. For all the PC talk about how important the Stanley Cup is to the Euro players it doesn't even come close to the importance of winning Olympic gold.

On top of that the 2014 Olympics, as Tarik mentioned, provide the only chance for this generation of Russian players to play in such an event at home. There is just no way in hell they're going to miss it and Ted simply doesn't have a good understanding of where they're coming from. His arguments about who makes money off the event are completely irrelevant. I also find it funny how Ted (whom I also greatly respect) says that it's a no brainer to play in the 2010 Olympics, but they really have to think about 2014? Why, just because 2010 is in North America (Canada) and 2014 in Russia? I wouldn't have expected this typical local yokel mentality from Leonsis.

They better let them go or they will screw up the whole relationship with the Russian stars. NHL got all bent out of shape when Radulov broke his contract and left for the KHL. How would they feel when players like Ovie, Malkin and Datsyuk do the same in the 2013-14 season just so they can play in the Olympics?

This is something sacred for the Russians. Saying "no" to them is like prohibiting a very religious person from praying. It's not gonna end well.

Posted by: ranndino | October 4, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

This is completely unrelated, but I just came across post game fan shenanigans after the Flyers - Devils game and thought most people here might be interested.

http://www.the700level.com/2009/10/flyers-bus-trips-to-jersey-end-in-violence-stabbing.html

Posted by: ranndino | October 4, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Go Mama Ovechkin!

Typical Ted - everything is all about the Benjamins.

Posted by: CapsChick | October 4, 2009 5:36 PM | Report abuse

Off topic, but did anyone else catch that move Semin pulled after he scored his second goal? He went and did some like figure skating pose against the glass, then face planted. Looked hilarious, anyone know if it was planned?

Posted by: superpaqman | October 4, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

Can't hate on teddy for caring about the bottom line. It is easy for us to say that the Olympics are about the sport and love of the game, when we don't have hundreds of millions of dollars at risk.

Posted by: trunkenmath | October 4, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't get why this is even a story. It's FIVE YEARS FROM NOW. Are we really going to be talking about this for FIVE MORE YEARS? I'm bored out of my gord already.

Posted by: ThisGuy | October 4, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

geez I thought we were done with the friggin' 2014 olympic talk once the season started... cant we wait till at least 2013 to discuss this??? must be a really slow news day

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't think the Caps can win the ECF or the Cup without a true, shutdown defenseman.

This player is not needed until the deadline. Also, Brendan Witt is not that player IMO.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 4, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I don't think they neccesarily need a true "shutdown" D-man such as Pronger.. I don't think the Pens have such a D-man either but they still managed to win the Cup. what they need is someone with a playoff experience who will battle every night. Erskine does what he can but he's a limited player. I'd take Witter over him any day but it all depends what the caps do with Nylander before going after someone like Witt.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Guess this is a CBA thing, but could the owners suspend the contracts of their players so that if the player got hurt in the Olympics the owner would not be on the hook for the rest of the contract?

Posted by: fehrrocks | October 4, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

joek443: You make a fair point - Pens won last year w/o the Pronger type. Go back and look though at the last 20 Cup winners and my guess is 60% had a HoF guy on the blueline.

Lidstrom (4), Stevens (3), Pronger/Niedermayer, Coffey (3), Leetch, Wesley (maybe), Blake and Bourque for Avs, MacInnis for Flames in 89, Lowe also played for 90 Oilers (is he in Hall?), etc.

Not a prerequisite. And I'm not saying you need a HoF. You need the crease clear, though, and the Pens did that way better than we did.

I will admit that Erskine is stepping up, ShaMo too, Jurcina has more experience, etc.

I agree they don't need Pronger. But they need as least a Glen Wesley or a Mark Tinordi. And I will stand firm that Witt is so slow and penalty prone that I wouldn't touch him with a ten-foot hockey stick.

I really think if Nylander magically disappears and you get in place a 95-96 version of Tinordi then the Caps become, all things equal, Cup favorites. No doubt the offense is likely best in the league and we have two sharp goalies. The defense is good. Is it Cup worthy? I'm saying no, not as constituted.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 4, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Pittsburgh didn't need a shutdown defenseman because Gary Bettman was going to give them the Cup regardless.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | October 4, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Hmm. In 1980 the Soviet hockey team lost to team USA, the eventual gold medal winners. Later that year, Tatyana Ovechkina won her second Olympic gold, in an Olympiad the Americans skipped.
I can't wait to see Alex Ovechkin lay down a few unforgettable games, in Sochi five years from now.

Posted by: redlineblue | October 4, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

in my mind Mark Tinordi and Brendan Witt are similar players. Tinordi was a better hitter and Witt was better in agitating people. I must admit that I haven't paid much attention to Witt since he was traded and don't know how much is left in his tank but he's still 34 and makes $3 mil/year. if he's still like the Witter when he was with the Caps, I'd take him for the playoff run.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Also I know Witt comes across as someone who has a few screws loose but one thing he's already had was his leadership quality. I remember Poile talking about that from day 1 after he drafted him... saying he'd wear the C someday.

Posted by: joek443 | October 4, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

by 2014 ovie will have banked only about 45M of the 100 or so ted owes him...so he definitely needs to think about the money if he's going to keep buying those benz's.

i think ted was coming from the perspective of if the NHL and the players union dont agree to play in the olympics yet the players decide to go over there anyway. that would impact the two-three weeks when the olympics is on and the nhl plays on.

at any rate, i would think teds would understand that for ovie, this isnt about money at all.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | October 4, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

A couple of hundred years ago, the Caps had a wing named Randy Burridge who twisted a knee playing golf and put himself out for the season. Maybe the owners would like to outlaw golf too? Things happen. So what.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | October 4, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

My recollection of Witt is that he is a B- dman who believes he is an A+. As a result, contract negotiations were a disaster. He sat out the year after he was drafted, and I believe the negotiations for his second contract with the Caps were also difficult. When the team clears salary cap space to bring in a d-man, I anticipate it will be for someone much better than Witt.

Posted by: zmega | October 4, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

joek: Here's the deal on Witter. In the 93 draft, Pronger went #2 overall to Hartford and Witt went #11 to Caps (Caps also got Jason Allison #17; Witt was I think a compensatory pick from the St. Louis Blues due to them signing Scott Stevens.)

Anyway, Pronger signs I'm thinking something less that $2M each for five years. Witt says he wants "Pronger money."

He-he-he. Let's review the careers of those two players...

Anyway, Witt doesn't sign in 93 nor in 94. Meanwhile Pronger plays two years for Hartford. Now, my memory...I think Brian Burke (Hartford GM) send him to St. Louis for Brendan Shanahan. Is that right? Funny that Shanny went to St. Looie for Stevens and that Witt was a Stevens compensation pick...Meanwhile Witt signs at the last second in June, 1995, just before midnight the day before the draft, 5 years I think $6.5M.

I'm remembering Witt's first couple of years are derailed by injury. Pronger is doing pretty good for the Blues. Witt ain't no Pronger. Shanahan gets sent to Detroit I'm thinking for Keith Primeau. Detroit wins a few Cups. Primeau goes with the Whalers to Carolina and then gets swapped to Philly for Rod Brind a Mour. What kinda last name is that? Brind a Mour? Means he loves a brind? Just those those Frenchies to have such names. Anyway, Brindy and his ugly mug get a Cup with the Canes. Primeau gets nothing, just whines a lot in Philly. Shanny keeps being a classy guy, calls Avery out in NY. Pronger gets a Cup in Anaheim after bolting Edmonton, who lost a Cup Final to Carolina (so Brindy could win).

In this whole long God-forsaken story, the lone bum is Brendan Witt. First, he holds out for Pronger money but never plays well enough to hold Pronger's jock. Then he whines his way out of DC just when the Caps are getting good and gets sent to Nashville for the pick that McPhee turns into Varlamov. Supposedly sick of being on a rebuilding team, Witt then signs with the worst franchise in the league, the Islanders.

Do you want Brendan Witt back on the Capitals? Place an X to make your selection.

___ NO
___ "HELL" NO
___ "I'D RATHER LIE FACE DOWN ON HOT COALS NAKED" NO

I'll put my X on #3.

Posted by: tominfl1 | October 4, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

You know, I'm a big supporter of Ted but I gotta be honest, I think he's starting to rub me the wrong way. He's always complaining about money and the CBA yet it's not the players fault that his deal doesn't include the VC, ticketmaster etc. If he doesn't raise ticket prices substantially he can't make money but that's not the players nor the CBA's fault. Once he owns it he will be making money. Why should he earn money from an Olympic event? If you host them at VC and you own VC then sure you should make money other than that I think you're out of line. The Olympics aren't supposed to be about money in the first place. That's why athletes gladly play for free. I'm sorry but I think I'm growing tired of everything always being about money. That's why my tastes are starting to sway more towards the college athlete in other sports. I can't stand the NBA and NFL at times but I love NCAA football and bball. Just my rant, sorry.

Posted by: pokerfaceI208 | October 5, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

I see the appeal to the Russian players, but you know who is paying them millions of dollars? Yeah, the likes of Ted and the rest of the owners. And, to act like the Olympics is still some mystical competition amongst amateur athletes from countries far and wide to promote world peace is to have your head in the sand. The Olympics is now as commercial as it gets. It sold out a long time ago. So, I think Ted has a very valid point.

Posted by: rphilli721 | October 5, 2009 5:38 AM | Report abuse

ARE WE OR ARE WE NOT TAKING OFF TWO WEEKS FOR THE 2010 OLYPICS? WHY IS EVEVRYTHING OK THIS YEAR BUT ITS NOT OK AND MADE A BIG DEAL OF IN 2014? COULD SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE. GO CAPS!!

Posted by: gratefuldid | October 5, 2009 5:40 AM | Report abuse

Regarding Lesonsis' comments, relax--he'll work it out with Ovie.

At the convention Ted said to Bettman in person and in this piece he was quoted that he HAD OVIE'S BACK on this issue. He understood why it was important to him and the other players. I have no doubt that the two of them will work it out. It's Bettman and the NHL I'm not as sure about.

But Leonsis also discussed the situation from other perspectives. A thoughtful discussion of the larger ramifications of participating in the Olympics whether from a franchise perspective or a business perspective or a CBA perspective does not mean that he has taken a personal stand--just that he understands the various arguments both for and against participating.

Remember he also has to play nicely with the other owners and Bettman in particular. Some of them are not nice playmates. Sometimes Bettman can be a bully.

And although we all love hockey and want our players to play hockey from the heart and not the pocketbook and the owners to pony up all the cash necessary without ever worrying about making any money--it's still a business. Money is a factor. We just don't want it to be only about the money.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | October 5, 2009 7:54 AM | Report abuse

I was also pleased to read that Malkin and Crosby both made statements supporting Ovechkin on this issue. If they and the other superstars are united on this issue then Bettman will be forced to agree.The NHL can't afford to lose their major players. It will be worked out to some degree at the CBA I am sure--but at least we don't have to worry about it now.
I have the season and the Stanley Cup in my eye this year.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | October 5, 2009 8:02 AM | Report abuse

FIFA has a simple rule for this. "Country over Club". Does hockey have an international governing body? I don't the NHL would go for it but it would really help out with inter-league trades.

Posted by: NFeKPo | October 5, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

I think it is wonderful the players want to play for their respective countries, What I fail to understand is why wehave professional athletes in the olympics? When I was growing up (log ago in a galaxy far away) It was true amateurs and a chance for them to show case their skills. Then it became more important to win than to compete so we sold out our amateurs to win gold. Not the true olympic spirit. Ok off the soap box. Go CAPS

Posted by: CapCenterholdover | October 5, 2009 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Olympics? who cares now, it is hockey season, aren't there more interesting stories to follow? I can think of one team/player dilemma that hasn't been clarified, and of course there a many more.

As for Ted. Good grief! Some of you need to stop the idolatry, this guy is in this business for the money and nothing else, stop deceiving yourselves by thinking he is doing for your pleasure.

I root for the Caps but I love the game more so I enjoy seeing great players like Crosby and Malkin too. Try enjoying the game, it is a lot of fun seeing the best athletes do their thing, we are lucky to have OV, Semin, and Backs among others.

Posted by: hock1 | October 5, 2009 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Did anyone see the Semin interview with Russ Thaller? I missed it.

Also, did anyone see the interview of Crosby and Malkin in the last pre-game show? While reviewing the playoffs, they commented on OV's knee-to-knee collision with Malkin, they both insinuated that it was a dirty play. I am not surprise that Crosby would say that, but Malkin? I thought they were friends again.

Posted by: hock1 | October 5, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Tatyana might want to remember who is paying her son the big bucks and who has to worry about a big, multi-year contract. Not saying I am against NHL players participating at Sochi, but saying Tatyana needs to learn about contracts. Oh I forgot, they don't pay much attention to those in Russia.

Posted by: doughless | October 5, 2009 11:27 AM | Report abuse

@hock1: You can see the Semin interview at Japers.

@tominFL: Thanks for clearing up the case against Brendan 'Half' Witt. What that clown would add to the Caps besides PIM, and why Caps fans are loyal to an idiot who never returned that loyalty, I have no idea. Pass the coal bin, please.

Posted by: redlineblue | October 5, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

First of all just a quick note to multiple people who got on Ted's back and said that he's all about the money. While I criticized him for his stance in my original post I totally disagree with this. If anyone thinks that he's making any money off the Capitals you're living in a fantasy world. As Ted said many times owning an NHL team is all about the pleasures that come with it. It's not really a good business investment with a few exceptions. There's only a handful of teams in the NHL that actually turn a significant profit. As hard as it is to believe the Capitals are a money losing enterprise for Ted. I'm sure it's better now that it was when they played in front of a half empty arena, but he's still not making any money off all of this so yes, as fans, we should be grateful for the product he put together and for the way he runs the club. I have a lot of knowledge about club ownership in various sports and Ted is without a doubt one of the very best owners in any pro sport.

Posted by: ranndino | October 5, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Now for some quick replies.

@Wiley_One1

The owners do actually try to prohibit signed athletes from doing certain dangerous activities like skiing. Golf isn't deemed to be dangerous enough, but yeah, last year the Kings lost their best young D for the whole season after he managed to totally badly injure his leg in a golf cart accident.

@rphilli721

The players aren't stupid. They know the Olympics are not some mystical amateur event and that they're very commercialized now. That's irrelevant to them. It's all about the prestige of representing your country at the highest possible level of competition in the sport of hockey. The level of Olympic tournaments (when all NHL stars play for their respective countries) is much higher than that of the Stanley Cup playoffs. On the top 5-6 teams even the 4th line is as good as many top lines on NHL clubs. I love these tournaments because it's the best hockey you'll ever see. The level of play is just completely off the hook. I mean just look at the proposed Russian roster. No NHL club would ever be able to put a line-up like this together these days due to the salary cap. Winning Olympic gold is the achievement of a lifetime, at least for European players. So it's not about money. It's about prestige, bragging rights and country pride (patriotism).

@gratefuldid

I've already answered that question. It's very simple. The only difference is that the 2010 Olympics are in North America and the 2014 in Russia. It's the usual North American local yokel mentality (sorry if that offends some, but it's the truth).

@NFeKPo

It's not that simple with FIFA either. They do have a "country over club" rule when the clubs are required to let their players go and play in international competitions (and all the pro leagues pause their seasons during international windows like the upcoming weekend for World Cup qualifiers). However, clubs are constantly whining and trying to circumvent these rules often by not releasing players citing non-existent injuries. I can see the club side in this also. It's a lose-lose proposition for them. They get no positive return from their players playing for their countries and take all the risk (possible injuries). Often a player gets seriously hurt and is out for like 6 months. Not only the club has to keep paying him, but they often also have to spend money on getting a replacement (since the players called up to play for their countries are usually the best ones and are very important in how the club does) which is very expensive (transfer fee + contract).

Posted by: ranndino | October 5, 2009 1:02 PM | Report abuse

@redlineblue

Thank you for the information.

@randinno

I would not comment on whether Ted is a good or bad owner, although, he seems to be good one, but to believe that he is only doing this for the pleasure is as naive as believing the used car salesman who sold me the last clunker. You might create some doubt into my point that he is doing it for the money if he was the sole owner, but he is not, and to think that he convinced a bunch of other people to just invest for the pleasure of it, well, that is just plain being naive.

I really could care less why he is doing it. I am enjoying the great team we have.

Posted by: hock1 | October 5, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

@ranndino and hock1: Personally I believe Ted is an owner for lots of complex reasons, as is any owner of a sports franchise. However I absolutely believe that his primary motivations are that he loves hockey and loves this team. And I believe that wants to make money too-down the road. I have no problem with any of these this.

From a business standpoint owning a team is not a major money maker like--oh for example AOL--but no owner wants owning a team to be a money pit. As incredible as it sounds our ticket prices are among the lowest--I don't have the exact figures but I've read the comparative stats many times.

Moreover, I think that it's the arena that makes the big bucks for an owner and Ted does not own Verizon Center. I remember reading that there is some kind of arrangement for his eventual purchase of Verizon but I have no details. And it's a vague recollection at best.

Whether one loves Ted or hates him, it is clear that he feels passionately about this franchise and the players and about the sport. And that is just fine by me.

Posted by: newbiecapsfan07 | October 5, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Bettman vs Ovie's Mom. Wow thats entertainment! Bettman will not win any contest with Ovie's mom. I can see her becoming a huge spokesperson for the players on this and Bettman will look REALLY REALLY stupid!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: hockeymom03 | October 5, 2009 9:56 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ted, and everyone else: without the Olympics, would there even be an Alex Ovechkin? Think about it...

Posted by: thecolonelblimp | October 7, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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