"When Alexander reached the podium, he stood beside me and I felt his heartbeat against my shoulder, it was pumping fast."
What a way to describe your first meeting with your future.
Let me explain, I had set up an interview with Washington Capitals Owner Ted Leonsis in Detroit for this Friday, but his schedule was quite full for his upcoming visit. Last night Mr. Leonsis was kind enough to call me and conduct a phone interview.
We discussed the outlook for the Capitals and Ted mentioned he has learned a lot from the past. The Caps are stressing team orientated play and want to be known as a team hard to play against. Even though he hated losing players from the past like Lang and Bondra, current players like Chris Clarke, Brian Willsie and Matt Pettinger are filling in nicely.
Mr. Leonsis is very happy with coach Glenn Hanlon, who has handled the team very well. He is stressing a team orientated game, is bringing the players around slowly and is a great teacher.
Now on to Ovechkin; I asked Ted who he hopes Alex turns out to be like, maybe a Messier type and his response is Alex tells everyone "I am me". Speaking about AO, he says he is an athletically gifted athlete. Before he was drafted by the Caps, the Capitals Russian scout told him Alex has a fifth gear and as the game goes on, he goes into sixth gear and takes advantage of other players slowing down during the game. His production this year has proved that point and Ted also stressed Ovechkin is a team player, fits in well in the locker room and along with Kolzig, is a great player to look up to.
Ted stated there is no "easy fix" to change the Capitals into a winning franchise. He realizes the Southeast division is getting stronger with players like Staal, Luongo, Jokinen, Lecavalier and Kovalchuk and must get his team stronger to compete with them. He has told fans and the press alike he is not afraid to spend money to win, but he will no longer try to "buy" a winning team. It all begins with team chemistry and the Caps are concentrating on getting team players that will fit into the system they are trying to create.
I brought up the NHL on OLN and Ted replied since Comcast is behind OLN, he has faith in them. He believes Comcast is powerfull enough to do anything they set their mind to. He did mention ESPN did not want hockey and they were disrespectful to the NHL and the move to OLN was in the best interest of the league.
The topic switched to new media and the NHL. Ted supplied some very informative information, over 185 million homes in North America are now wired into the web. He claims the NHL fan is the most web savvy, and it is up to the NHL to establish a footprint for all of the information the fans want. He feels newspapers are a dying breed, and bloggers and the web have become very important in getting the NHL news out to the public. Do a search on recent NHL news, and you will see bloggers and websites show up prominently and will continue to do so. He mentioned he reads the blogs on a regular basis, pointing out Off Wing Opinion and Jaspers' Rink as a two of his favorites. The recent Tony Kornheiser column was brought up and Ted mentioned he does that type of article on a yearly basis. He has no problem with what was said because Kornheiser is a columnist and has the right to express his views, but if it was from a writer, he would make sure to point out some of the facts to him.
I thoroughly enjoyed my fifteen minutes with Mr. Leonsis and strongly encourage others associated with the NHL to open up to my fellow bloggers. We care about the game, promote it whenever possible and do this for the love of hockey. Our voices are heard and respected and Mr. Leonsis' lead should be followed.
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