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Leonsis admits he's no hockey expert

Whether the author intended this or not, it's impossible to read Ted Leonsis's latest blog post and not immediately think about another local sports franchise, its owner and its fan base. How about I quote one passage and then you try to guess the franchise, okay?

Lately I have been getting positive feedback from fans and media because I don't get involved in hockey related decisions regarding the Washington Capitals. I help set vision, strategy, culture and provide the resources. Then I am a cheerleader for the team and the franchise and I also get involved in many business affairs such as sponsor relations and season ticket holder communications.

I believe in the folks that work for us in hockey operations. I trust them. And the results are starting to speak for themselves....I AGREE that I am not a hockey person and would never assume that I would know what to do to build a team as to specifics; salary cap management; execution; systems; lines to play; players to draft and the like. So I agree with you all. Thank you. And thank goodness.

Well, then. If a certain other local sports owner made a similar blog post, I believe my computer would spontaneously fly off my desk and begin making figure eights and baking cookies inside The Post newsroom, while eager Washingtonians lined up outside our front door and clamored for hard-copy subscriptions and Nats tickets.

But this is all nothing new. We know that some local owners take pride in not meddling, and others do not.

The more interesting part comes later in Leonsis's post, where he presents the other dimension of his non-meddling: If he isn't going to get involved in systems, drafting, cap management and execution, then you can't very well complain to him or about him when you don't like the systems, drafting, cap management or execution. That's a neat little trick, and it's hard to dispute.

Ted's point is more that if he isn't an expert, you sure aren't -- "what some of you are saying is this, You shouldn't meddle with the team but I should be allowed to meddle with the team. You aren't that smart or an expert but I am that smart and I am an expert," is how he puts it. And from a football perspective, this probably means that if the guy who owns the team shouldn't be evaluating talent, random blog readers and blog writers shouldn't be doing so, either. Fair enough.

But the greater takeaway for me is that if that other local owner ever steps away and declines to have any input about on-the-field decisions or policies, then it will no longer make sense to fault him for on-the-field problems. And that would be a very, very tough adjustment for a lot of people to make.

Okay, end fantasy. Back to real world.

By Dan Steinberg  |  November 4, 2009; 10:18 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Redskins  
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Next: Halloween in D.C.: Lincoln and Snyder

Comments

I *heart* Ted Leonsis.

I *opposite of heart* Dan Snyder.

Posted by: 4-12 | November 4, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

I love Leonsis, and I believe he's a genuinely good guy, but this indicates to me that he relishes this perpetual comparison with Snyder... and he's not above showing at least a bit of that Schadenfruede with the world. Good owner, bad owner.

Is Ted going to be the post-Pollin owner of the Boulez as well? What a treat it would be to see the Caps and Wiz franchises thriving under his wise, benevolent stewardship while Snyder continues to struggle... oh wait, that would mean the Redskins would suck for a bunch more years... damn it...

Posted by: NateinthePDX | November 4, 2009 11:16 AM | Report abuse

"If a certain other local sports owner made a similar blog post, I believe my computer would spontaneously fly off my desk and begin making figure eights and baking cookies inside The Post newsroom, while eager Washingtonians line up outside our front door and clamor for hard-copy subscriptions and Nats tickets."

Splendid 'graph, nice to see proper Bog content come back to reasonably eclectic levels.

Posted by: Section117 | November 4, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Well, it doesn't absolve the owner of criticism for how the team is being run. He is the one who puts the operations people in their positions. GM hired a non-auto CEO, but he is certainly responsible for everything that goes on under him by the people he puts in decision-making positions.

Posted by: dcborn61 | November 4, 2009 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Wow, how quickly Ted forgets HIS decision to trade for and re-sign Jaromir Jagr against the wishes of his General Manager. Ted Leonsis opens his mouth and out come lies...again.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | November 4, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

@freakinandpeakin

He is openly admitted he has learned from that mistake, it's a common trap for any new owner of a sport. Look at him now.

Not so much with the "other" owner. 10 years and counting...

Posted by: HogsHaven | November 4, 2009 12:08 PM | Report abuse

----
Wow, how quickly Ted forgets HIS decision to trade for and re-sign Jaromir Jagr against the wishes of his General Manager. Ted Leonsis opens his mouth and out come lies...again.
----

That's true, but it appears he really learned his lesson there, and has stayed out of the way since then. And since then, the team has gone from the usual not-very-good Caps to the contenders that they are now.

Just sayin'.

Posted by: Section406 | November 4, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Can Leonsis afford to buy the Skins?

That'd be great.

Posted by: TheSuperhoo | November 4, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Hey freakinandpeakin
You are loco en la cabeza. Ted admitted he made a mistake with Jagr. I don't know where you get the idea Ted is a liar. No matter, you are not the brightest bulb in the knife drawer.

Posted by: chopin224 | November 4, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

NateinthePDX: Leonsis has the right of first refusal to buy the Wizards and Verizon Center from Pollin. His ownership group already owns 44%. I don't quite know how this works if Pollin dies before he sells the team, but I assume they figured out a way.

Posted by: doubleuefwhy | November 4, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"And that would be a very, very tough adjustment for a lot of people to make."

I don't agree with this assertion. I think Caps fans love their team's owner not just because of the success the team has had recently, but rather the way he communicates with the fans and relates to them out there in the community. He's a multi-millionaire but he presents himself as a yeoman fan. He's honest. But most of all, he has never played a part in on-ice matters. He put that into the hands of a Hobey Baker winner.

Daniel Snyder is exactly the opposite, but then again, most owners in professional sports are nothing like Ted. If Snyder caved, put his team in the hands of somebody who played and understands the game, and they still performed poorly on the field, Skins fans would notice.

There will always be those who point their fingers at top managers regardless of fault. If the caps took a turn, you bet Ted would get an earful. But much less than Snyder is getting.

Posted by: Rainier1 | November 4, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Ted took responsibility for the Jagr debacle. That is why George McPhee is still here, Ted gave him a pass because McPhee warned him about Jagr.

Anyway, Ted and his group sat down in 2004 and introspectively said 'Can we win the Cup with this team?' The answer was 'No' and the decision was made to start from the ground up by trading away the aging veterans for draft picks and prospects.

Dan Snyder came in, started adding high priced free agents to the roster (Sanders, Smith, etc.) and neglecting the draft and development. Even this past summer with the signing of Albert Haynesworth and ignoring the O line, he continues to run things the same way.

Ted saw what he was not doing right and changed the philosophy and the thinking. Dan Snyder continues to run the Redskins the same way he always has.

Posted by: DrCapsFan11 | November 4, 2009 12:56 PM | Report abuse

"That's a neat little trick, and it's hard to dispute."

No, it's not. It's not a neat little trick nor is it hard to dispute. An owner, CEO, President, HNIC is responsible for the performance of his team, company, country, whatever if only because he or she makes the decision of who gets to manage the day-to-day operations. Snyder is responsible for Cerrato's bad decisions because he gave Cerrato the job. And he will continue to bear the brunt of our ire until he mans up and fires that googly-eyed freak.

Posted by: I_am_Jacks_computer | November 4, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Even owners who know the sport well are better off trusting their teams to capable GMs. Two hockey examples that come to mind are Detroit's Illitch and Carolina's Karmanos.

Posted by: WingsFan19 | November 4, 2009 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Rainier1, I'm a Capitals fan and the thing about Ted Leonsis that earns my respect -- even admiration -- is that he is so genuine and so willing to include himself as part of the fan community.

Even before this year's revolt can you imagine Dan Snyder wandering around the aisles of FedEx Field during a game? Leonsis does it all the time.

I also remember attending a promotional event at the Caps' practice facility in Ballston, and realizing that Ted Leonsis was riding in the elevator with me and a bunch of other fans afterward. "Ted," someone else asked, "what are you doing in here with us?" "How the hell else am I going to get to my car?" was his reply.

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 4, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

"I believe my computer would spontaneously fly off my desk and begin making figure eights and baking cookies inside The Post newsroom, while eager Washingtonians lined up outside our front door and clamored for hard-copy subscriptions and Nats tickets."

Steinz, would you share the cookies with us if we clamored for them, too?

Posted by: greggwiggins | November 4, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

You all can point at me, but here is what TED said, ".I AGREE that I am not a hockey person and would never assume that I would know what to do to build a team as to specifics; salary cap management; execution; systems; lines to play; players to draft and the like. So I agree with you all. Thank you. And thank goodness."

He WOULD NEVER ASSUME. He did. He didn't say he learned from mistakes, he made a definitive statement that was a flat out lie. He has pulled the two free tickets they gave away on the Caps Report, he shut down the message boards without any warning, he has threatened fans based on opinions written on the Official Boards, he has physically assaulted a fan at the arena. I could go on and on and on.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | November 4, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh and one more point. If you are going to hold Snyder responsible for free agent decisions made 10 years ago and his behavior from ten years ago, so should Leonsis.

Posted by: freakinandpeakin | November 4, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Freakinandpeakin=Pengwhines fan.

Posted by: Randy_Hawkins | November 4, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

freakinandpeakin
You must be the one Ted punched out. Sounds like you deserved it.

We do hold Ted responsible for what he did 10 years ago. Problem is Snyder is STILL DOING IT you idiot!!!!

Posted by: jfwil | November 4, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

What I think author 4/12 meant to write was:

I *heart* Ted Leonsis.

I *anus* Dan Snyder.

Posted by: briyau15 | November 4, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

In all honesty, everyone KNOWS Leonsis is no hockey expert. The guy brought that load Jagr here for crying out loud.

Posted by: poguesmahone | November 4, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

In all honesty, everyone KNOWS Leonsis is no hockey expert. The guy brought that load Jagr here for crying out loud.

---------------------------------

ROFL!!!

Posted by: cbmuzik | November 4, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Leonsis took a page out of Snyder's playbook when he brought Jagr over.

Posted by: briyau15 | November 4, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

The choking of the fan was 6 years ago not 10 and as freakin noted Ted has threatened folks for what they have written on the message boards and had people suspended from the boards for writing things critical of him. His blog is very self-serving. He ain't no Dan Synder but he also felt no obligation to make even partial refunds when he fielded an ECHL level team the latter part of the season when they blew up the team and left better players in Portland. Interesting Ted's blog will link a Japers Rink bloc that had Jeff Schultz among the 10 best D-men in the Southeast last season while not citing other sources that talk about how bad our defense is and how small the Big Schultz plays. He is very selective and in his blogs comes off as condescending more than occasionally.

Posted by: rbluesw | November 5, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

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