Here with a guest post is our Redskins-Giants Predictions winner JDP.
Ted Leonsis is either fraudulent or incompetent.
His constant “be patient” mantra to fans and media on the Capitals’ lack of postseason success is getting old. Ted loves pumping his own tires and telling everyone how great the Caps are. He loves promoting the image that the Caps are great because they are built from within through their strong AHL affiliate. But that is a joke.
The team is dwelling in mediocrity. And they are mediocre because they were built that way. Ted continues to tell everyone to be patient though. It’s been six years — time to show up or shut up. In any other “hockey city” (Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh) that would not stand.* The Stanley Cup window is closing and he does nothing to remedy the problem because he is making money.
* You could say, “Oh, well this isn’t really a hockey city. You should be happy with what you get.” No! Leonsis specifically markets Washington as “America’s Hockey Capital.” We are a glorified San Jose.
Leonsis is a businessman first and foremost. And that is perfectly fine. I wouldn’t want to own a team that is constantly losing money. But hold this guy to the same accountability that Dan Snyder is slammed with.** Leonsis won’t risk anything until the team loses money.
** I am not a Dan Snyder fan. Please let this be clear.
His lack of risk with the Capitals can be traced to his refusal or inability to part with GM George McPhee. McPhee has outlived his expiration date. Congrats on getting the first overall pick and not screwing it up. That was a really tough one. The Ovechkin era is going to be for naught if the team continues to be built the way it has been. The team is soft and lazy. This is the same story every year now. Lulls in goal scoring lead to an identity crisis. But nothing has changed.
A commenter on Capitals Insider put it well:
Ted thinks the fans who complain are impatient idiots. Well, for several years we have pointed out ad nauseum no 2C, no 1 defensive defenseman, the coach was clueless and the GM was almost as bad. Many posters here have decried the lack of toughness and grit, the lack of team cohesiveness and the unwillingness of the players to stick up for each other.”
We hear the same criticisms of the composition of this team every year, yet no changes.
It’s funny how Boudreau got the ax for the failings of a McPhee-built team. Boudreau didn’t cause the lackluster hockey on the ice. The “country club” atmosphere was as much a result of McPhee’s coddling as anything else. I am sure if you asked around the league you would find front offices mocking McPhee.
If Leonsis wants to run a serious hockey team he needs to let McPhee go. Boswell put it best when he said, “When you fire your coach, that’s a failure.” The Caps have been failing for too long. It’s time to try a new approach, which means a new architect.
I’d also like to criticize Leonsis on the Wizards, but since nobody really cares about them I’m going to keep this short. The same criticisms of Leonsis for keeping McPhee can be applied for Ernie Grunfeld, maybe worse though. Leonsis had a real opportunity to clean house when he bought the team, but he kept the GM who had put them in the hole they were in. I get that the Arenas extension wasn’t entirely his fault because Pollin was in love with Agent Zero. And to be fair, Arenas was awesome. I loved him, but come on man. Hindsight is 20/20, but that contract was bad at the outset.
Leonsis really has me ticked off with the comments he made at media day. I recommend reading the whole thing due to how blatantly he is lying to the media. Also, the fact that nobody called him on it. Leonsis at one point called Javale McGee “erudite.” This had been made fun of enough, but (and this gets back to Grunfeld being an idiot) the Wizards are going to extend this guy. Yes, he is freakishly athletic and yes, he makes highlight-reel plays. But anyone who has watched him play a full game instead of just the highlights knows he is a disaster. The Wizards are going to sign him to some mega-extension. The lockout has done nothing to stop this overpayment. I am depressed. Please don’t do this Wizards, please.
Leonsis also said the Wizards are a top-two or -three team in new-ticket sales. Jesus Christ, how did nobody call him out on this bullshit? Oh yeah, the fan base is super-energized by a 23-win season. Again, I’m depressed.
Finally, Leonsis is dishonest about the philosophy for the team. Or rather, I hope he is. Leonsis is trying to “build” the team with young players, not overpay for aging free agents. The problem is the Wizards aren’t going to luck into another John Wall again. And the Wizards had a prime chance to do some movement with the amnesty clause of the new CBA. Bill Simmons proposed amnestying Rashard Lewis and making a run at Wilson Chandler and Aaron Afflalo. That team makes a lot more sense than the current composition. And it still maintains youth.
But no, Leonsis builds through the draft and sits on who he has. This “Destination D.C.” crap that he keeps spewing is not going to come true. Players go where the money is. Leonsis is dishonest because of his failed experiments through the years. Yi Jianlian. Josh Howard. Mike Miller. Randy Foye. These guys don’t scream youth or building a core to me.
Leonsis is always praising these guys, though. Beyond the “erudite” McGee he has lately been praising the new maturity of Andray Blatche. The only way this season can be redeemed is if Andray Blatche follows through on his promise. This team is garbage and Leonsis knows it. “I’m more concerned with process right now than output, though we’re here to win,” he said. Well, get ready for a season without output and wins.
Seriously, what does it take to lose your job under Leonsis if you’re a GM or a player? This is a semi-serious question. He has never blown up a team, he has never traded a star (the Arenas move doesn’t count), he has never fired a GM. If Leonsis ran the Redskins we’d still have Vinny running the show. At least we’d still have Jason Campbell though.
Everyone is always genuflecting before Leonsis for giving this town a taste of winning. But this is the guy that can’t take criticism. It can’t be summarized better than his attempt to choke slam a Caps fan who brought a mean sign to a game. Oh wait, you forgot about that episode? Seriously, Leonsis attacked a fan of his own team! That is in the pantheon of crazy owner moves! Even Dan Snyder only had his workers go try to confiscate signs.***
*** Again, I am not a Dan Snyder fan. This is not defending him. I’m sure he has done other mean things to fans like suing them and such.
Leonsis is always praised for his openness, especially on his blog. But the blog is just another sign of his arrogance. The blog is the most self-serving thing of all time. His game recaps show how little he knows. He never lets an opportunity to gloat pass by while always pleading with fans to remain patient. Also, the way he subjectively chooses to link only positive articles to reinforce his “organizational methods and philosophies” about his teams fools no one.
One of my friends, a season ticket-holder, emailed him an article from On Frozen Blog that offered some criticism. I’m pretty sure it was this article. Leonsis responded but dismissed the article, saying, “I know the writer well, he is a one-note guy.” Oh, tell us what you really think, Ted! Yeah, that’s the type of media-friendly owner that you know and love. Leonsis is only friendly when you’re kissing his feet.
Ted isn’t all bad. He is engaging with media and fans. He’s not Donald Sterling. He seems to be a decent human being. But his arrogance and incompetence is ignored. It’s always the coach’s fault, or the talent not coming through, or some other excuse. Leonsis deserves his share of the blame. I’m sure he will take this criticism well.
(Ted Leonsis portrait taken with love from
Sam Hurd Photography Getty).