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Leonsis says trades show Caps "mean business"

With the NHL trade deadline and the NFL free agency opening coming on back-to-back days last week, we got yet another chance to compare the approaches of Ted Leonsis and Daniel Snyder. This, though, might be the first time in the history of the world that their approaches converged.

First Snyder, whose approach was described in a Peter King column:

Shanahan, the Redskins' coach with the power, and Allen, the new general manager, worked on a long-term plan for the team in their first month on the job and gave it to Snyder just before the Super Bowl. "He said, 'Good. Do what you guys think is best,' '' Allen said Sunday.

And the plan really included keeping the checkbook in the pocket on the first weekend of free agency? Really? Was Snyder apoplectic? "No,'' Allen said. "He didn't throw anything at me. And he didn't throw a tantrum. He's fine with it.''

Then Leonsis, who talked about how he approached the trade deadline during his Monday morning appearance with the Junkies. Even if Snyder was as hands-off as King described, Leonsis managed to one-up him in hands-offedness.

"I'm almost embarrassed to tell you the truth," the Caps owner said. "About a week before the deadline, there was a meeting with George [McPhee], and Dick Patrick -- president of the team -- and myself. And it was a pretty short meeting, which was we're in year four of this grand plan, let's review what the strategy is. And let's review what I would consider us...being dumb.

"So we kind of wrote that on the board, and it wasn't specific to players. Our plan was to build a generationally great team that could compete and win a Cup and be great for a dozen years or so. We're on our way to doing that, and so we can't do anything that will muck with chemistry, but more importantly, with the salary cap, so that we can't keep our young core of players together.

"And if you can improve the team without taking back big huge salaries that we will regret in the out years, or to move a bundle of great young players for this quick sugar fix of a vet who can help us right now. Do we agree on the strategy? And once we agreed, I said 'Ok, you're on your own.'

"And so the trade deadline last week I was in New York City. I actually had a board meeting from 12 to 2. I was taking the 3 o'clock train home. The train deadline ended at 3. I got in the car at 2. My son sent me a text, 'Hey dad, I see we made a trade for Scotty Walker. I called my son and he said where are you? I said New York. I got online on the train about 3:15 and started reading about all of the trades."

So if that's to be believed, the team's owner learned about the significant changes to his roster on the Internet. Let's see the Redskins owner pull that off. Maybe it will help our Redskins Insider traffic, not that it needs it.

The Junkies also asked Leonsis about the possible downside to this trade: messing up chemistry, and putting too many significant contributors in the press box. On this Monday morning, the healthy scratches would appear to include Tomas Fleischmann, Scotty Walker and Shaone Morrisonn, all of whom are obvious NHL regulars. So, why add so many pieces?

"The big fear, to be frank, is health," Leonsis said. "You know, you're one or two injuries away from really regretting not adding depth, and today our issue is we have too many players. And it's working to our advantage, because we don't have much to play for. We'll probably wrap up the division to make the payoffs within the next couple of games, three, four games....We have a shot to end up with the best record in the league, and that would give you home ice throughout the playoffs, but it's not the motivator to really play really, really hard, like your life depends on it, to get ready for the playoffs.

"Well, bringing in these players, it makes for some internal competition. And it was really good for the coach now, because hey, if you're not giving me 110 percent, I'm gonna put someone in who wants the ice time. And if someone goes down, we now have depth. And so I think we did exactly the right thing. It certainly showed the players and the fans that we mean business, and we were able to do it in a way where we didn't hurt our future."

By Dan Steinberg  |  March 8, 2010; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  NHL , Redskins  
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Next: Olympic coaching made Caps appreciate Boudreau


"Welcome to Washington Mr. Walker! Thanks for that game winning goal!"

2 game later

"Ok, cool your heals in the team suite"

I guess Gabby's going to be mixing it up for as long as he can to find what works. Gotta love having that kind of freedom.

Posted by: EricS2 | March 8, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

"..hey, if you're not giving me 110 percent, I'm gonna put someone in who wants the ice time. And if someone goes down, we now have depth."
Spoken like a serious owner with Championship aspirations! Go Caps!

Posted by: JohnWWW | March 8, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Depth. I like it. And with these new boys contributing while a couple of the stars are "slumping" that will give them time to get up to speed. It will make for a comprehensive attack whereby teams won't be able to focus on just one or two players to shut this team down.

If if Mr. Threeormore keeps playing the way he's playing, I suspect he might be just enough to get us by.

And I like the long term approach. To not compromise so much in what could be rentals for the quick sugar fix. With key youngsters due to make big bucks in free agency in the next year or two, management's dedication to the core nucleus of Youngins make the newest signings all the more attractive.

Here's to a long, and deep Cup run that hopefully ends with Lord Stanley's Chalise being where it belongs - D.C.

Posted by: VeloStrummer | March 8, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Based on approach and hard work there is no front office team in DC that deserves a championship to validate their success more than the Caps.

They have drafted well. They have made good trades and generally signed good free agents.

And they are managing the cap well. Ovechkin and Green are signed long-term, Semin is signed for next year and only Backstrom from the elite group needs a new deal this offseason.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 8, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

And didn't they essentially sign a bunch of expiring contracts... which would seem to mean they have more money to resign Backstrom this offseason?

Posted by: JBaker76 | March 8, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"And it was a pretty short meeting, which was we're in year four of this grand plan," So when did he restart the plan? It was supposed to be a five year rebuild beginning with the firesale before the lockout year. Ovie was drafted that year, there was the lockout year with the some prospects and players acquired during the firesale played in Portland, and now this is Ovie's fifth season. Leonsis declared that the rebuild was over. So how are they in year four?

Posted by: NovaCath1 | March 9, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

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