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Damien Cox: "I have nothing against Ted Leonsis"

Since I already waded into the muck of the Ted Leonsis-vs.-The-Ovechkin-Project feud, might as well keep things going. The co-author of the just-released book about Ovechkin, Toronto Star hockey columnist Damien Cox, was on TSN's "Off The Record" Wednesday, and the topic of his electronic back-and-forth with Leonsis was raised.

"From what I can tell, he's most upset that he wasn't quoted more in the book," Cox said. "There's nothing in the book really that is critical of him, but I think the Ovechkins did not want this book to be written. They wanted it stopped. They're handled by IMG, and IMG was asked to make sure this book didn't happen, so that tells you something about the story. And I think Ted Leonsis is protecting his prized property.

"I have nothing against Ted Leonsis. I think he's a good NHL owner. I just think he thinks that he's the be-all and end-all on new media, and I think he's wrong."

(All publicity is good publicity, all publicity is good publicity.)

Cox was then asked whether he had requested an interview with Ovechkin.

"Oh yes," he replied. "IMG basically, after months of negotiation, would not let it happen, and a lot of it was because they wanted money. They wanted money for interviews."

Ovechkin's camp would argue that the issue was far more complicated than this. IMG declined to comment on any aspect of the book, including the money-for-interviews claim.

Anyhow, there's one other somewhat bizarre aspect to this whole back-and-forth that I previously neglected to mention: Cox's claim in a column that Leonsis "was a hawk during the last labour struggle and now drinks deeply and gratefully from the revenue-sharing trough." Cox later repeated this on Twitter:

Funny still how Ted never mentions his team requires $10-14 million in NHL revenue sharing every year just to stay afloat.

Well, Leonsis did respond to this claim at length during his recent appearance on Japers Rink Radio.

"Yes, we do get revenue sharing in Washington, for two reasons," he said. "We have very low ticket pricing. Compared to many other teams, our ticket pricing is in the lower third of the league, so our revenues are not as high or commensurate with, let's say,Toronto. Secondly, we built and own our building, and we have a mortgage.We didn't take money from the city. And the combination of those two fit within the rules of the NHL CBA and we do get revenue sharing, but we get less and less revenue sharing as we grow our revenues. We're one of the fastest growing teams in the entire NHL.

"So the whole logic behind that tweet war, I think that it showed the true colors of where the writer's head is. I didn't understand why that was being portrayed as such a negative. Yes, we're sold out. Yes, we have very high levels of fan satisfaction, and our fans are getting a good deal because our ticket prices are still quite low even though we spent to the cap max and our team performs pretty well. So I guess the other side of the coin would be, is it better to be providing great value to fans and getting revenue sharing than not making the playoffs and overcharging your fans?

"I mean, I didn't understand the logic of the anger built into the tweet, and it was just a series of streams of consciousness that to me showed kind of the thinking that went into the writing of the book."

(All publicity is good publicity, all publicity is good publicity.)

By Dan Steinberg  | September 23, 2010; 9:49 AM ET
Categories:  Caps, Media  
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Comments

Let's not give this guy anymore publicity. He's trying to hawk his extremely biased book and we're just helping!

Posted by: capsnnats | September 23, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Damien Cox: "I will say anything, to anyone, in any venue, to help sell my book."

Posted by: capsfan77 | September 23, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

So Cox wanted exclusive interviews with Ovechkin so he could write a book and make money off of it. Ovechkin's management declined to participate and/or said they wanted cash for those interviews. Somehow Cox is surprised or making that an issue.

Seems to me that Ovechkin has every right to profit off of his own persona and I wouldn't have given Cox special access to enrich himself at my expense, whether or not the book was positive or negative.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | September 23, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

@Capsfan Damien Cox "I will say anything, to anyone, in any venue, to help sell my book."

And Leonsis, with his remarkably thin skin, will do anything to respond and further publicize the book............

Posted by: poguesmahone | September 23, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

BTW, re the revenue sharing. Cox is a Toronto based writer and the Maple Leafs are the Yankess when it comes to revenue sharing. They are a cash machine and most likely the ones who fork over the most cash to share the revenues. The fact that their team makes all this money yet can't put a good product on the ice makes them understandably bitter.

At least Ted uses the revenue he gets to good use by improving his team and developing fans. He could be like the idiot who owns the Pirates. Takes all his revenue and doesn't make any effort to make his team viable.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | September 23, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"(All publicity is good publicity, all publicity is good publicity.)"

So true from Cox's perspective because his book is about to be (or just has been) released in Canada.

BUT after reading the excerpts as well as his tweet tirade during which he dismissed the Caps fanbase, this Caps fan won't touch his book with a ten-foot-pole.

His nasty anti-Caps tweets has undermined his credibility. I have no faith that he has told Ovi's story from a place of objectivity. The fact that Leonsis doesn't recognize the portrait of Ovi in the book merely underscores Cox's lack of objectivity.

Posted by: Capsyoungguns | September 23, 2010 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Caps & Leonsis should just let Cox hang himself. He says enough complete BS like accusing the Caps of front loading Ovechkin and Backstrom's contracts that his true colors will shine through soon enough.

Publicly arguing over perceived motivation (i.e the book) is just giving him the attention he wants. Point out the factual inaccuracies and leave it at that. Otherwise it starts to sound like whining.

Posted by: tha_prophet | September 23, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Seems like the word from Toronto fans is that Cox isn't well liked there, either. Only people who seem to like are his bosses.

Posted by: gfreader | September 23, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

"Seems like the word from Toronto fans is that Cox isn't well liked there, either. Only people who seem to like are his bosses."

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

He may not be well liked in Canada but Canadians will love this book. Anything to prop their golden child up and knock the main impediment for him not being the best player in the world.

Posted by: ouvan59 | September 23, 2010 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Having read some of Damien Cox's columns about Ovechkin in the past, I am not going to preclude reading this book because of the current pissing match between him and the snarky owner of the Caps.

Also I do not believe Cox stated the Capoitals frontloaded the Backstrom and Ovechkin contract. That was Sports Illustrated dor.com's Jim Kelley I believe.

Posted by: rbluesw | September 23, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Having read some of Damien Cox's columns about Ovechkin in the past, I am not going to preclude reading this book because of the current pissing match between him and the snarky owner of the Caps.

Also I do not believe Cox stated the Capoitals frontloaded the Backstrom and Ovechkin contract. That was Sports Illustrated dor.com's Jim Kelley I believe.

Posted by: rbluesw | September 23, 2010 1:37 PM | Report abuse

The last sentence of my post should read:


Also I do not believe Cox stated the Capitals frontloaded the Backstrom and Ovechkin contract. That was Sports Illustrated dot.com's Jim Kelley I believe.

Posted by: rbluesw | September 23, 2010 1:38 PM | Report abuse

@rbluess You're right to an extent, Cox didn't say it word for word. What he did was try to make the point that the Caps deal with Ovechkin, which pays him more in the last year than the first, encouraged the Lightning to sign Lecavalier to an extension that pays him $10M in 09-10 and $1M in the final year.

-------------
But when they wanted to give Alexander Ovechkin a 13-year, $124 million contract, one they knew Bettman wouldn’t approve of, they did it anyway. That encouraged others, like the bizarre Tampa twosome of Len Barrie and Oren Koules, to engineer a deal with Vinny Lecavalier that started with a $10 million salary and wound down to $1 million.

http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/article/856779--cox-with-supporters-like-these-bettman-doesn-t-need-enemies?

Posted by: tha_prophet | September 23, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse


Let's not give this guy anymore publicity. He's trying to hawk his extremely biased book and we're just helping!

Posted by: capsnnats | September 23, 2010 10:30 AM |

I think the other side of that argument is that if people are actually reading what Ted and Cox say, they will see Cox and his book for what they are. I think there was a lot of interest in the book from Caps fans before we saw excerpts and had access to the Ted/Cox back-and-forth. It's not publicity that Cox wants, it's book sales and the more he talks, blogs and tweets, the more he hurts his chances (with non-Ovechkin haters). I can't imagine anyone following this saga would find his book in the least bit credible. He can't even decide if "the Ovechkins did not want this book to be written. They wanted it stopped. They're handled by IMG, and IMG was asked to make sure this book didn't happen" OR "IMG basically, after months of negotiation, would not let it happen, and a lot of it was because they wanted money." So, was it the Ovechkins who didn't want it because of the content, or IGM who didn't want it because they weren't being paid? It doesn't really matter because if neither of those stories fly, then he can just go back to Ted's revenue sharing. I've heard better constructed arguments on the grade school playground.

Posted by: RandomID | September 24, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Damian Cox has always been a twit and he isn't likely to change any time soon.

Posted by: Wiley_One1 | September 24, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse

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