Leonsis On How To Build Properly – Great Read

For my 7th birthday my mom got me a subscription to the Hockey News. I kept that current until about 5 years ago, when i found it outdated. Oddly enough, despite over 25 years as a customer, I never received a letter or a phone call, I guess they just didn’t care. In any event, great article on their site today about Ted Leonsis the owner of my 2nd favorite team in the NHL, the Capitals. This has long been a team on the rebuild. Long gone were Gartner and Langway and Beaupre…. There have been some lean years in the beltway. Since Ted took over there has been a promise of building the right way (sound familiar??) To his credit Ted stuck through it. When I lived in DC, I went to lots of games where I could count empty sections, not rows or seats, but entire sections.

The hockey news has a great interview with Ted on rebuilding, a must for Leaf fans, owners or management. Ted says that he took stock, and tried to answer the question when he took over as to whether or not the Caps could win the cup:

““So we did something dramatic and radical and said, ‘Let’s benchmark and look at the teams that have won Cups in the NHL and the teams that have won in the NBA and NFL. Let’s also look at what happens when a (salary) cap system went into place.’ We were the first team that hired a capologist and spent the lockout doing research and best practices on what works and what doesn’t in a cap-based system. We were very analytic and research-based.”

A novel idea, especially in sports where everything is an old boys network…..there is no such thing as a new idea.

““We learned a lot of things: first, for the most part, teams that are in the playoffs and out in the first or second round, and do that consistently, stay right where they are. Because they replenish themselves, as the Caps were doing, with the 15th pick in the draft and 18th pick in the draft. While the teams that are really good, that eventually become really bad, tend to get high picks.”

Which is why you have to blow it up real good! There is no joy in constantly making the playoffs but moving forward….

“We also learned that the system is created so that, if you draft and develop well – and those younger players tend to be less expensive at the start of their careers – that’s how you’ll build a good team. So we went and we traded every brand name, high-paid player who was in his 30s and went into it with the strategy of, ‘Let’s get a (draft) pick and a prospect.”

Which is pretty much I think what Cliff was hoping to do at the deadline and throughout the summer and will continue to try to do this season.

“Pick-and-prospect, pick-and-prospect, was what we tried to do. And it was dramatic and I was very transparent about what we were doing. I was criticized like you can’t believe. The Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell said, ‘Go to Ted’s house, take your season tickets, burn them and throw them on his lawn.”

I’d take Bowell over our own Lynette Scavo (Howard Berger).

“What (building a contender) takes is guts, analytics, planning and then patience. That’s hard to come by.”

The proof is in the Caps pudding. There is also the element of luck which is always a required element. Here’s hoping that here in Toronto we follow this type of plan and while we wallow in the basement AO lifts lord stanley this year!

you can read THN here.

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