Friday, December 5, 2008

The Sweater Ted Meets the Owner Ted

Yesterday I got the pleasure of getting to sit down and talk with an NHL owner, a first. Ted Leonsis invited me to Capitals headquarters and I was glad to take him up on the offer. We sat and talked for probably about 20 minutes. The first thing you will notice about Mr. Leonsis is how engaging he is; he gave all his attention to me and was genuinely focused and interested in our meeting. It was something special. The next thing you can’t help but see is the man’s passion for the team and sport of hockey; he’s an owner that wants to have a class organization and wants to provide a winner. In that regard they are rounding into form.

We talked about a lot of things: hockey, blogs, fan-ship, following teams, he told me about his youth and how he came to love the game. We talked broadly about arenas and revenue, the economy…Of injuries and coaching changes, on fans who don’t get it and ones who do. It was a whirlwind and an exciting one.

I've come to the conclusion that in this day and age with the limitless resources of the internet and cable/satellite television, it is so much more easier to stay connected to a sports team if you wish. It's no stretch to say though, I'm probably at one extreme in terms of rooting interest. Had I been, not less "dedicated" to the Penguins but maybe less attached is the proper word, it would be easy to see me phasing out of them and towards a team who's city I live in. If it was 30-40 years ago, I would not have much of a choice.

Therefore, I don't think it's uncommon or really inherently a sin for a transplant to adopt their local team. I also still believe though there are plenty of folks like me in this area, who's bond with their team/city has been solidified. I think this is reinforced when Buffalo, Detroit and Pittsburgh (three cities that have lost a lot of people) come to play in a city like Washington where due to the government, there's a lot of transplants in the area to begin with.

More to the point I would say, if you ever get the chance to meet Mr. Leonsis, be it at a game or around a practice, I would definitely suggest doing it. He is accessible and as you would imagine a very interesting conversationalist. I had a very nice time at Caps HQ and thank him for his time and parting gift; tickets for me and my friends to sit in some of his seats. We all had a wonderful time.

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