At the National Press Club on Wednesday, Ted Leonsis made one very interesting comment regarding the Washington Capitals during his hour long talk. As highlighted by Michael Lee of the Washington Post, and the Associated Press.
“I do think our young players that form our core, led by Alex Ovechkin, it’s their time now,” Leonsis said. “They are not even in their prime.”
As I read this remark two words popped into my head.
I have been a strong supporter of Leonsis, George McPhee and Bruce Boudreau the last several years as fans have called for all of their heads.
I do believe that these three are the right trio to lead the Capitals to the franchises first Stanley Cup championship, and that belief was strengthened two weeks ago with the clubs free-agent acquisitions.
However, reading these comments caused me to think back to how Leonsis got himself into position to buy the Capitals in the first place.
Above all else, Ted Leonsis is a businessman. He built a Communications company to a level that American Online bought the company, and then helped turn AOL into a billion dollar a year company.
His marketing ability has been of great benefit to the Capitals as Leonsis sent out handwritten letters to season ticket holders asking them to be patient during the rebuilding process, and just before the start of the 2007-08 season publicly declared the rebuild to be over.
Leonsis’s marketing sense has reared its head, again.
According to Arctic Ice Hockey, the average points-per-game peak for a player is age 25 with the peak scoring ages being between 24 and 26
The Capitals core group is made up of Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Brooks Laich.
Laich is 28 and Semin is 27, while Ovechkin will be 26 before the season starts and Green will turn 26 during the first week of the season. Backstrom is the youngest of the core at 23 which leaves all six in, or very near the prime of their careers.
The “young guns” are no longer, with the exception of Backstrom, young. Ovehckin, Semin, Laich and Green have all been in the league for five full seasons, while Backstrom just finished his fourth, and all six have been in the playoffs four consecutive seasons.
The time is now for all the “core is still young,” excuses to stop. Now is the time for these guys to perform, especially since two of them have recently signed lucrative multi-year contracts.
Leonsis’s comment was made as a way to keep the media and the fan base happy. Both groups were very outspoken after the team was swept out of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning, saying the culture within the locker needed to be changed, and that Boudreau, Green, and, or Semin needed to be fired or traded.
The Capitals just had the highest attendance of any season in franchise history this passed season as over 754,000 fans attended games, so Leonsis doesn’t want to lose that kind of attendance and support.
Leonsis has made it this far by knowing what the right move is and when to make it.
Well, the right move now is this. Stop making excuses. The core is in their prime, so it’s time to put up, or shut up.
The best thing for Teddy to do right now is shut up.