WASHINGTON – Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis is not worried the team has a small window to win a championship.
“Last year the under-reported story of our team was how many young players joined our team,” Leonsis said Wednesday in a speech at the National Press Club. “We probably took steps back because we brought in so many young players.”
The Capitals were swept out of the Stanley Cup playoffs this past season in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning. That came one year after Washington lost in the first round despite finishing with the most points during the regular season. In response, the franchise turned over a chunk of its roster this off-season, acquiring several veterans and using nearly all the available salary cap.
“They’re not even in their prime,” Leonsis said of the young core. “The team will make the playoffs—as I promised—10 to 15 years in a row. That’s what I believe.”
Bruce Boudreau’s job status was a hot topic after the most recent playoff exit, but the team didn’t making a coaching change. Boudreau is 189-79-39 in four seasons, but Washington has failed to advance beyond the conference semifinals.
“Analytically our coach has a fantastic record, I think the best record in the NHL during the regular season during his tenure,” Leonsis said. “That’s a pretty strong statement. At the same time, our team hasn’t gone deep enough into the playoffs.
“We have to look as a franchise, as the protector of the asset, would we be better off as a franchise changing a player, firing the coach. It’s not an emotional reaction. It just can’t be done. Through the analytics, we thought it’s better to keep the team and the franchise and continuity together and see how we do this year.”
Leonsis also owns the Washington Wizards, and with the NBA in a lockout, he had much less to say about that sport.
He did advocate for a monument being built in honour of the previous owner of the franchises, Abe Pollin, who died in November 2009.
At the end of his speech, the NPC gave the Capitals owner a coffee mug as a token of appreciation.
“Not exactly the cup I was expecting,” Leonsis joked.