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Caps feel bad for the city


(By Toni L. Sandys - TWP)


Like I wrote on Tuesday, it's been a bad 12 months for D.C. sports. Reader John says it's even worse if you extend it to 13 months:

5 teams, 4 fired head coaches, 3 last place divisional finishes, 2 fired general managers, 1 deceased owner.

Yeah, that's bad. As D.C. Landing Strip noted, the Celtics, Red Sox and Bruins all won on the same day this week. The equivalent D.C. trio hasn't accomplished that feat in more than four years.

Anyhow, the Caps recognized that this was a bad time for the city, and that they were supposed to provide a postseason respite, and that they didn't.

"I think it was ingrained in everybody that we were going to win," Bruce Boudreau said last week. "This was our year. It finally got to the point, and we wanted to say that the culture in Washington was thinking hockey and everybody you see on the street was talking about this is your year. We're more upset that we have so many great fans that we wanted them to continue to be happy. We wanted to win it for them as much as we wanted to win it for us. So we're disappointed for the whole area because we've grown this into a hockey area and we want it to stay that."

"I feel bad for the city right now, for D.C.," Nicklas Backstrom said. "The fans have been supporting us all year and we can't do better for them."

Then there's the owner, Ted Leonsis; during an appearance on Sirius XM's NHL Home Ice this week, he said "the life and air was sucked out of this city with this loss, and it made the pain doubly felt."

Leonsis also taped an hour-long interview with C-SPAN's "Q&A" program just before Game 7; the interview will air this Sunday at 8. Some of this you've read before, but it was still interesting to see his thoughts on "how important a sports team is to the psyche of your community," as he put it.

"Suddenly, when the Redskins [won] on Sunday, Monday there's a happy day in Washington, D.C., that our team has been doing so well," Leonsis said. "And I think that's a big responsibility. I don't just want our team to make the playoffs, I don't even want our team just to win a Stanley Cup, I want to make millions and millions of lifelong memories between fathers and sons and mothers and daughters. I want immortality for our team, you get your name etched in the Stanley Cup. Nothing brings a city closer together than a winning sports.

"And I grew up in New York in the '60s, I'm an only child and my dad used to take me to the Jets games. And I remember the Jets winning the Super Bowl with Joe Namath, and my dad and I watching that game on TV and hugging and crying.

"And now we fast-forward 40 years, my father passed away a couple of years ago. And last November, the Colts and the Jets were playing again in the playoffs. And on the NFL channel, they were running that Super Bowl. And I was on the treadmill exercising and I was watching the game, and I had to get off the treadmill, the memories of me and my dad, my growing up, holding his hand walking into that stadium just came flooding back to me. And it was very humbling because that's the business I'm in. I'm in a business when you own a sports team, where you can create a memory that 40 years later, to make a grown man cry.

"And so I view owning a sports team - it's a public trust. You have the psychological well-being of millions of people in the palm of your hand. And I think it's no different than being a politician that being a mayor - I was mayor of my town in Florida for a while, and you feel that you're there to represent a large collection of people and hold the mirror up to them. And that's what I think owning a sports team is all about."

By Dan Steinberg  |  May 5, 2010; 9:09 AM ET
Categories:  Caps , Nats , Wizards  
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Next: The Nats say "Let's Go Capps"

Comments

Now they are starting to get it. They are saying all the right things.

It's time to do the right things......

Posted by: CF11555 | May 5, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Sure, the 1st wrong exit was horribly disappointing, but if you followed the Caps all season, it was a pretty great ride during regular play. None of the experienced happiness from that high quality entertainment gets erased by the playoffs loss. Arguably, the same can be said for the Terps with all of the season high points, including the team's return to national prominence, the Georgia Tech buzzer beater, the huge Duke win at Comcastle...

Posted by: jbakerman | May 5, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Ted Leonsis is the anti-Snyder. Total class act -- repsects the fans and doesn't try to gouge them.

Posted by: dbunkr | May 5, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

What a minute......Ted excercises?

Posted by: RichC3 | May 5, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

It happens. I am still bummed about it. But, I sure as anything look forward to next season. It's a great time down there and I expect them to make some additions to strengthen the team.

Posted by: ridgely1 | May 5, 2010 10:50 AM | Report abuse

I've had the discussion with friends and often forward them evidence - but Leonsis has turned the franchise into something of which we can all be proud. It goes beyond the product on the ice - it has to do with how the organization is run, how employees and customers are treated. When the Caps win the Stanley Cup (next year). I want to be the first in line to give Ted a big bear hug and thank him for doing something that we can all be proud of. The contrast with the Redskins is so damning to Snyder that he'll eventually have to change as well. When that happens I want to give Ted another bear hug.

Posted by: DisgustedinArlington | May 5, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

In the end the players just didn't want it badly enough.

Semin, Green, etc. These guys don't realize HOW MUCH they have to sacrifice to win a championship.

Note that the Penguins aren't winning pretty in the playoffs against Ottawa and now Montreal. But they are grinding it out and getting the wins.

I don't know if Semin and Green have it in them to be those kinds of players.

They to me are 'feel good' performers, ie when everything else is going well for Ovechkin, Backstrom and the team is rolling these guys jump on for the ride and contribute stats.

But when the team is down and needs a lift these guys rarely come to the table with anything approaching star power.

Posted by: leopard09 | May 5, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I feel badly for the Caps because the people that shouted so that all could hear that they were "fans" the entire season - and some beyond that - have been supreme liars the whole time. Hard to trust your fanbase after the extreme knee-jerk reaction and bad behavior they've displayed lately. If this is you, find another team.

Go CAPS!!!

Posted by: nena1 | May 5, 2010 12:23 PM | Report abuse

I think Ted really gets it. If anything, it's more shocking that so many sports owners don't get it. The team is a part of the fabric of a city, so when a team wins a championship or splits town in the dead of night, these things really do effect the psyche of a city.

Posted by: M__N | May 5, 2010 1:32 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect, I'll give Leonsis his props when and if they win a Cup. Until then, he's just another losing owner.

Posted by: poguesmahone | May 5, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

And so I view owning a sports team - it's a public trust. You have the psychological well-being of millions of people in the palm of your hand. And I think it's no different than being a politician that being a mayor - I was mayor of my town in Florida for a while, and you feel that you're there to represent a large collection of people and hold the mirror up to them. And that's what I think owning a sports team is all about."
-----------------

at least he says the right things. That's a start. Now he just has to grow a pair and cut the umbilical cord to his GM. Its not a rash move. Its the right move. This is about as far as you're gonna go with McPhee at the helm. 12+ yrs into his tenure and he's still struggling to get out of the 1st round. He's mediocre in many respects. He would've been fired a long long time ago in any other city. In some cases perhaps prematurely. But in this case he's been here way too long and Ted is much too comfortable with him running things. He needs to get out of that comfort zone and make a significant change. The roster does not need to be blown up. But it is clear that McPhee doesn't know how to get this team to the next level. He thought he had it all figured out this year. Very bad miscalculation on his part. He doesn't understand WHERE his team is in respect to other teams.

Posted by: cstanton1 | May 5, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

GMGM is a golden god and the bumper crop of KIDS who just entertained the hell of us are going to win a couple stanleys, give us many more grins. Whiners and faux prophets stand at the back of the parade mob, please--for honor's sake, and the better to kiss my asphalt.
If you think you know OR care more than the least-committed towel boy in the room, you are laughably misguided.
GO CAPS!

Posted by: redlineblue | May 5, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

@ redlineblue:

THANK YOU!

Go CAPS!!!

Posted by: nena1 | May 6, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

"I feel badly for the Caps because the people that shouted so that all could hear that they were "fans" the entire season - and some beyond that - have been supreme liars the whole time. Hard to trust your fanbase after the extreme knee-jerk reaction and bad behavior they've displayed lately. If this is you, find another team.

Go CAPS!!!

Posted by: nena1"

Honestly, I think it's the opposite. This team has always choked, since their creation. Teams exactly like this that had some of the best talent in the league choked and lost in early in the playoffs. After a while, its like..why even bother to open yourself up again and again to another let down?

Why become emotionally invested in a team that consistently, with different players, coaches, GMs, and owners, continues to choke and destroy what they accomplished in the regular season? Sure it's hard to win the cup, but jeez, we can't even make it to an Eastern final? Can't make it past the FIRST ROUND? Capitals have one of, if not the worst playoff record of any professional sports team in America. They consistently make the players, and consistently lose, and lose badly.

Anyway, there's always next year.

Posted by: SwampFox11 | May 6, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

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