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Ted Leonsis: NHL is stronger financially than NBA

Capitals owner and soon-to-be Wizards owner Ted Leonsis said today that after reviewing the NBA's finances, he believes the NHL is in better shape financially because "it has a CBA in place that protects owners from taking stupid pills."

Leonsis might stand alone with that assertion, but at any rate, here's more of what he had to say today at the National Press Club, courtesy of your friendly neighborhood bogger:

"There is a hard [salary] cap in the NHL. In the NBA, you can spend a lot of money, and every dollar you're over this luxury tax, you get fined. And there's a lot of basketball teams who are losing a lot of money, and it's the problem with sports. That in the past, it's always been these are playthings, these are sideline businesses, but now the cost of entry in buying a team is very significant."

Read more here.

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  May 21, 2010; 3:58 PM ET
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Next: Ovechkin, Russia to play for gold at worlds



Posted by: kmr2r | May 21, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

from previous posts about the tournament: wow way to play so GREAT now! In a tournament no one cares about! Where was this good play when it MATTERED, in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?! don't mean to sound like a bi*** but seriously. this tournament means nothing to me. It's great they're playing great but I'd much rather see them still playing right now... for the thing that matters the most.

Posted by: rachel216 | May 21, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

@kmr2r This is a post about the owner of the Capitals and his comments on the financial state of the NHL, so I believe that it is relevant on Capitals Insider. However, feel free to not read it if you don't like the topic!

Posted by: Lindsay Applebaum | May 21, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

I just read an article today on yahoo about how popular the NHL is now, the TV ratings are back to what they were in the mid-90's.

The first two rounds averaged 886,000 viewers per game in the US, up 19 percent from last year. But that's still far short of 3.9 millions NBA viewers and their playoffs have been just awful this year.

Looking at those numbers, I don't see how the NHL is financially stronger than the NBA. And last I checked the NBA hasn't had to take over a team like the way the NHL has had to with the Coyotes.

Posted by: joek443 | May 21, 2010 6:17 PM | Report abuse


More goes into it than just tv ratings. Look at salary costs for one, but many, many more things also.

Posted by: sgm3 | May 21, 2010 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Lindsay-wow- you guys read these.. I do understand your point.. but its good to mindful that lots of us hockey fans are tired of listening to a great hockey conversation get preempted (sp?) by a switch to a Redskins/Nationals/ Wizards commentary.. After years of DC living, where the Caps were ignored, I enjoy all the media now so I dont have to search for news, etc. (or listen to the playoffs on am radio) but there is still that subsection of the media that wont invest in learning the sport .. so I think we have to be careful of that here.. because the owner is the same there are will be tons of reasons to post Wizards news here but .. (I know this is a slow hockey season as well.. but when both sports gear up.. lets keep them seperate)..

Posted by: kmr2r | May 21, 2010 7:38 PM | Report abuse

@ sgm3

the NBA gets almost $800 million/year from abc/espn and TNT while the NHL gets about a tenth that amount from their TV deals.

that's $26 mil/team vs. less than $3 mil/team... other than at the gates, where do the revenues come from??

I understand that the NBA does not have a hard salary cap but nobody is putting a gun to the heads of these owners to spend their money. I always laugh whenever I hear these owners begging the players and the fans to save them from themselves.

Posted by: joek443 | May 21, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

BTW the NBA salary cap is about the same as that of the NHL as far as the raw dollar amount.

Posted by: joek443 | May 21, 2010 9:26 PM | Report abuse


No it isn't. Look at what teams are contractually able to do in both leagues per their collective bargainning agreements. Anyone saying that the caps are about the same is wrong.

Here is the Cleveland Cavs payroll this year:

Then there are plenty of other expenses for teams that are not equal. What percentage of revenues is put into NBA or NHL operations.

I do agree that I always find it funny that the owners need a cap to protect themselves. Personally, I could care less who makes money here, you are dealing with billionaires and millionaires. They can divide the money however they want. I just want to watch the entertaining product (ticket prices and beer prices do bother me though).

Posted by: sgm3 | May 21, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

L.A. Lakers payroll

The L.A. Lakers have $84.57M committed to SIX players in 2012-2013. This is guaranteed! How is this equal to the NHL?

Dallas Mavericks Payroll

Posted by: sgm3 | May 21, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I remember putting together a few posts before we played the Blackhawks this season where I was talking about how impressed I was with them. I watched about 10 of their games over the course of the season and felt that they were the best team in the league.

Some guy from Chicago that was apparently a Caps fan was using the past to argue that they would flame out again this season.

Until a team breaks through, people always say that kind of stuff.

Chicago is a very complete team. No team is perfect. They have a weakness or two but overall, they are probably the most balanced team in the league.

It looks like they are going to make it out of the tougher conference and I don't see Philly or Montreal being able to handle them. I expect them to win the finals in 5 games.

Posted by: tmac2yao | May 21, 2010 11:17 PM | Report abuse

Chicago hit bottom the same year as the Caps. I think it was 2004 it was like Chi 59 pts, Pitt 61 and Caps 63, and Caps won the lottery and Pitt won the 2nd pick. Ovechkin, Malkin and Cam Barker. Pitt had already had a #1 already for Fleury and a #2 for Staal and then got Crosby via blind luck so they won first. Maybe Chicago wins second. But, if they can do it, so can Caps. Both teams have questionable goaltending but the difference is Chi has better balance, better D and more toughness. Does this sound like a repetitive note some of us have been sounding since LAST SUMMER?

This is now my one millionth post saying all we need is an "Ulf Dahlen" and a "Mark Tinordi." We don't need all the flashy scoring we have (see: St. Louis Blues, mid 90s).

Too much of one thing with not enough of another is a recipe for disaster for almost anything (see: formula for dynamite).

Remove Semin and Flash and replace with equivalent value on the defensive end and you have...the Blackhawks.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | May 21, 2010 11:41 PM | Report abuse

Ted THINKS he gets it now that the team is successful, after having acquired their two best players from years of sucking and then getting lucky with lottery picks.

Two things though:
1) Not every team

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 22, 2010 2:34 AM | Report abuse

Ted THINKS he gets it now that the team is successful, after having acquired their two best players from years of sucking and then getting lucky with lottery picks.

Three things, though:
1) Not every team will be fortunate enough to draft an Ovechkin or Backstrom to build around, and
2) You can't maintain a contender through the draft unless your drafting is near perfect. That includes finding diamonds in the late rounds. Which McPhee hasn't done, ever.
3) Even with a great amount of talent and depth built through the draft (which the Caps do have), you still need balance to win a Cup. All championship teams have to trade or pick up FAs to win.

So, don't overspend like you did on Jagr, Ted, but don't just reject the idea of finding help outside the organization. Find that happy medium. And please start by getting a top pairing d-man who plays defense.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 22, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

@ sgm3

teams like the Lakers are in a league of their own, they pay Phil Jackson $12 mil/year when no other coach makes over $7 mil.

maybe I'm missing something but I don't hear owners like Dr. Buss, Mark Cuban, Dan Gilbert or the jokers who own the Knicks complaining about the lack of a hard salary cap in the NBA.

I'm sure they would all prefer to have one but I don't hear any grumblings from the owners, at least not publically.

Posted by: joek443 | May 22, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

I hate basketball.

Russia v. Germany on right now in the semifinals! Period 1 is about to end. Varlamov trying for a shutout.

Posted by: youaresquishy | May 22, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, right after I pressed the SUBMIT button, Germany scored. Germany is actually ahead 1-0, still late in the first. The fans are very happy about this, because they are mostly German people.

Posted by: youaresquishy | May 22, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

My vote goes for keeping the NBA krap off of this blog. And Lindsey, if you are inviting me not to read the blog anymore, perhaps I'll take you up on that.

There are enough bait and switches going on everyday, we don't need one here. But thanks for telling me what I can do if I don't like it.


Posted by: rblatch45 | May 22, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The German fans apparently like to whistle constantly throughout the opposition team's power plays. That is extremely annoying, which I'm sure is why they do it, but it seems like it'd be at least as annoying to Germany, and me, and them. I dunno about that one.

Posted by: youaresquishy | May 22, 2010 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I just want to point out that "everyday" is primarily an adjective that basically means "ordinary."

The only other acceptable usage is as a noun in a weird kind of way you don't often hear it used, as in "Reading Capitals Insider is part of the everyday for me," and it would mean the normal or ordinary day.

But the two-word phrase "every day" is the phrase to use when you're talking about all of the days, and you write it much like you would write "every kumquat" or "every lemur" or "every blog." When you write "everyday" at times you're supposed to write "every day," it looks exactly as weird to me as it would if I went around writing "everykumquat" and "everylemur." So please stop doing this, or I will also start joining words in weird ways and you won't like it much.

Dr. Squishy

Posted by: youaresquishy | May 22, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Datsyuk! With less than 2 minutes left, Datsyuk put Russia ahead 2-1. Varlamov was solid.

Ovechkin, Semin, Varlamov et al. are in the finals! And they get to play the Czechs, including Jagr. So that should be fun.

I believe the game is at 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time tomorrow (that's Sunday, May 23). You should be able to catch it on I wonder whether there will be any fallout from the excellent Ovechkin hit on Jagr during the Olympics:

Posted by: youaresquishy | May 22, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse


But will Semin be playing in the Finals? He was scratched today for some reason. Bykov preferred to use a KHL'er named Shushinsky instead of him in today's game.

Granted, Semin's only scored once in the World Champs but has had several assists. But I didn't think he had done so badly to merit a scratch.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 22, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Varlamov wasn't in net today.

Posted by: knape1 | May 22, 2010 2:39 PM | Report abuse


Instead they used this tall skinny guy named Koshechkin in goal. The guy has a cat on his goalie mask. Wonder if it's because the first part of his last name sounds like the Russian word for "cat"; i.e. kashka.

Some say that he has reflexes like a cat.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 22, 2010 3:14 PM | Report abuse


Slight error on my part. Koshka is the Russian word for cat, not Kashka. That makes Koshechkin's last name closer to the word for Cat.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | May 22, 2010 3:17 PM | Report abuse

I just wanted to remind everyone what a failure Ted Leonsis has been since he bought the Caps. He (McPhee?) built a solid team and got the city behind the Caps, but he has won ONE PLAYOFF SERIES IN OVER A DECADE. IT IS INEXCUSABLE. People need to step bowing down to him.

Posted by: Leeale | May 22, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if Ted will be choking any Wizards fans, or sending them threatening emails??

He does this to Caps fans. No one talks about it though.

Posted by: Hatfield223 | May 22, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

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