TED LEONSIS ON BUILDING A WINNING FRANCHISE

by Ron Spence

I am quite fascinated with how General Managers are building teams in the 2009-10 NHL.

I read everything that I can on the topic. 

A few months back we published some of Ken Holland’s comments in the blog: KEN HOLLAND EXPLAINS THE NEW WORLD ORDER. 

Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Capitals, explains Washington’s philosophy on how to build an NHL team. The following is from his September 17th post:

 ted

“We as a team have a lot of depth. We have lots of young players pushing veterans for playing time. Camp is very competitive. Goaltending is no exception as you will read in the Washington Post.

This is by design. As noted, our Hershey affiliate is a strategic asset for our franchise. We want and have developed a seamless system of training and developing young players to learn our system. When they play in Hershey, they are a part of our team. The players know they will get minutes in the NHL. They will get “their call” and they must be prepared when the time is right. They know we are watching how they do closely in Hershey so they play hard and get results for the Bears as well. They will have their opportunity to show what they can do in the NHL if they do well in the AHL. We believe in that fairness doctrine but at the same time we are loaded with young core players at the NHL level. Neuvirth helped Hershey win their championship last season and he is fighting for minutes still in the NHL. That is a great sign about how much depth we have at the NHL level, don’t you think?

Also, in a salary cap era, having younger and less expensive players available helps a team stay within its budget and can soften the blow when a vet leaves us via free agency. There is newness and an excitement level that new players bring to the team as well. We start the year with a couple of young players on injured reserve. This will open opportunity for a few other young players to step in and contribute and show what they can do.

This is all by design and was part of our restart plan during our rebuild years. It is great to see this all working out as we crafted it on a white board.

We drafted Varlamov with a pick we garnered in a trade. We drafted Neuvirth a bit later and we believe both of these young men will be stalwarts in goal for us for a long time. Rebuilding through the draft – I still maintain – is the best way to build a team. At the same time, Jose Theodore has looked very sharp in goal. He is a long time NHL vet. He is a former league MVP. He wants to keep his mantle of the #1 goaltender. Competition in camp is very healthy. It is an exciting time to be a Caps fan.”

 

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