Ted Leonsis

Leonsis: Capitals weren’t ‘trending toward being able to compete for a Cup’


The Washington Capitals have in recent years been a strong regular season team, but could never take that next step in the playoffs toward competing for the Stanley Cup.

In the 2013-14 season, they took a major step back, not even qualifying for the post-season and that meant the end to the Adam Oates two-year tenure as head coach, who was relieved of his duties. It was also announced that general manager George McPhee, who has been with Washington since 1997, would not have his contract renewed.

Yes, major house cleaning for the Capitals on Saturday. And now the search for a new general manager – and then a new head coach will begin.

But owner Ted Leonsis did not see his club progressing the way he would like, and changes were made.

“We were left (with) the overall impression that the team wasn’t trending toward being able to compete for a [Cup],” said Leonsis, as per Brian McNally of the Washington Times.

Oates, as a rookie head coach in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, saw the Capitals get off to a slow start at that time but then they roared back toward the end of the season to claim the Southeast Division, before getting eliminated in the opening round of the playoffs.

Oates released a brief statement on Saturday, saying he was “grateful” to be given the chance to coach the Capitals.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ted Leonsis, Dick Patrick, George McPhee, our coaching staff, the players and everyone involved with the Washington Capitals organization,” Oates said in a statement, which can be found on CSN Washington.

“It was a tremendous honor to coach the Capitals these past two seasons. It is a great franchise with a wonderful fan base that will always be close to my heart. I’m grateful for the opportunity they provided me and wish them nothing but the best in the future.”

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?