NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Washington DC yesterday. While he was in town, he took in the Caps-Pens rivalry game from the owner’s box at Verizon Center. Bettman also held court with the local media.
When asked about the growth of hockey in the DC Area over the last decade, Bettman marveled at the job both Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis have done. Seconded.
“It’s the Ovechkin era and there’s an era that’s a little bit longer than that one and I would call that the [Ted] Leonsis era,” Bettman said beaming. “I think Ted’s ownership of this franchise has been nothing short of phenomenal in terms of how the community has been engaged and in terms of how fans have connected with and interacted with this franchise; the stability of ownership and management has been very important.”
Then it got weird. Bettman credited (I think) definitely-not-Washington Capital Evgeni Malkin.
Back in 2010, we — okay, Ian & Peter — created a campaign to get Barack Obama to a Caps game. It seemed like the type of thing a newly-elected president and rising young team would want to get in on. The White House press secretary at the time, Robert Gibbs, responded to RMNB’s pleas. But as we enter 2015, Washington’s Stanley Cup hopes and Obama approval ratings are low. So are the chances we get to see a presidential hockey game. While Obama has attended Wizards, Nationals, Mystics, and college games, he has heretofore ignored hockey in office. RMNB registered these concerns to the highest levels of government.
“I don’t know what the deal is,” Secretary of State John Kerry told RMNB earlier this year.
Visual approximation of metaphor
On Tuesday, the Washington Capitals hosted some kind of media luncheon thing and made available literally everyone in the Caps organization. That list included owner Ted Leonsis, who dropped what I initially thought was a bombshell during his press conference.
I heard him say something about Nicklas Backstrom having a new “beautiful baby boy.”
Upon closer inspection of District Sports Page’s Katie Brown tweets, however, I learned that Backstrom did not have a new child over the summer. Leonsis was just talking about how Nicklas Backstrom refers to a new addition to the Washington Capitals.
Photos: Amanda Bowen
On a bright, sunny Tuesday at Nats Park, the Washington Capitals held their grand Winter Classic jersey reveal in front of a bunch of media and select Caps season ticket holders. Not only did Caps Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby model the new sweaters on stage (oh man, I love those ties), a bunch of other news and details about the event were released too. We learned that we will actually be able to see the all-access Winter Classic show produced by EPIX, the Russian machine’s fashion sense is still one of a kind, and the history behind the new Caps classic logo is pretty darn cool.
But the most interesting part of the day was having some of the biggest NHL personalities on the same podium modeling all this cool new stuff. Amanda Bowen, who’s had quite a busy first week with RMNB, has your photos from the event.
(Please someone get me one of those toques.)
Photos by Chris Gordon.
Barry Trotz wants to turn Caps Development Camp into a more polished affair, with NHL players coming in as mentors and a focus on improving little aspects each player’s game. On Saturday, the team concluded the annual camp. In addition to the final scrimmage of week, the Caps also their annual fanfest in a packed Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
Though Team Red was stocked with first round picks Andre Burakovsky and Jakob Vrana, the White Team took hold of the game in the third period, scoring third goals on the route to a 7-4 win. After the game, Caps owner Ted Leonsis presented prospect Madison Bowey with the winner’s trophy, before the team held a bit of mock Stanley Cup celebration. Check out my photos below.
Photo: Chris Gordon
“I don’t know if I could give specifics,” Brian MacLellan said when asked how he differs from his former boss George McPhee. “He’s a good friend. He’s a character guy.”
Then MacLellan broke down. After 10 years in the NHL, MacLellan retired from league in 1992. He got an MBA, becoming an investment banker. In 2000, his old college teammate McPhee brought him back to the sport, asking him to join his young administration in Washington as a part-time scout. MacLellan accepted. Thirteen years later, MacLellan was standing up against a wall at Verizon Center having just filled McPhee job. The two talked during MacLellan’s interview process.
“You know, it’s a hard thing,” MacLellan said, gathering himself. “We’re different people. We have different personalities, different way to approach things. I think any two people are different.”
“We’re good friends,” he added. “We’re really good friends, and we’ve grown up together.”
Photos by Chris Gordon
When Adam Oates was introduced as the new Capitals head coach in 2012, the press conference was held in the basement of the Verizon Center. The arena’s interview room is a dingy space that brings to mind a Soviet office building. That was fitting for Oates’s tenure. On a hot Tuesday afternoon in May, Washington introduced the replacement administration. This time, they chose a more auspicious location. After being served a buffet of tilapia and oatmeal raisin cookies, media members sat down in nice padded chairs in the Acela Club to listen to Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, Barry Trotz, and Brian MacLellan talk about the future. I’ll have more on that later, but for now, here are my photos of the presser.
For those who threw their remotes out the window when the Caps season ended, you’re missing out. The Caps co-tenants at Verizon Center, the Washington Wizards, have won their first playoff series since 2005 and upset the number-one seed Indiana Pacers in game one. On Wednesday night, ahead of game two, CSN Washington’s Chris Miller did a live shot from Bankers Life Fieldhouse during Wizards Central.
And then Ted Leonsis video-bombed Miller on live TV. Troy Brouwer would be so proud.
Photos by Chris Gordon
Monday morning, George McPhee said goodbye to an organization he’s known for 17 years.
He was charming, not bitter, during his 34-minute press conference at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Canned on Saturday, McPhee deflected blame toward himself, refusing to discuss individual performances.
“Should I start by saying fire away or is that the wrong terminology?” McPhee joked as he walked up to the podium. “I felt it was coming, but in this job, you’re 24 hours away from being fired almost any time.”
Photo: Jacquelyn Martin
Today was a weird day. I’ve run into George McPhee many times, both as a tiny Caps fan and as an adult blogger. I really like him. And I loved Adam Oates as a player.
But, obviously, the Washington Capitals needed a change – the trade requests and the revolving door of coaches suggested serious dysfunction in the organization. Today, majority owner Ted Leonsis and team president Dick Patrick hit the reset button, firing GMGM and Oates.
While some readers are openly celebrating the firings (which I totally get), this is also a painful moment for the people involved– most notably Leonsis and Patrick, whose decisions led the team down this path.
Both men spoke to the media on Saturday and you could tell it was not a press conference they enjoyed.
There wasn’t a lot of news in their words, but their faces spoke volumes.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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