Not to Worry, Kid(s)

Sales of newspapers in Montreal are going to plummet, and somewhere some fifth-grade 2016 draft-eligible kid is sleeping soundly, completely oblivious to the fact that he’s going to be the cornerstone piece of Nashville’s next trade pitch to get Alex Ovechkin — in 2021.

Here in Washington, we weren’t worried much. The only smart thing to do was to sign Ovechkin and for as long a term as reasonably possible. Done and done. None of my media cohorts here and few of the many fans with whom I interact regularly were ever truly worried that the No. 8 car wouldn’t be wheeling around the Verizon track for the foreseeable future.

When Ted Leonsis made the announcement tonight — first playfully teasing and milking it to say “the rumors of a six-year deal are wrong … we signed him for 13 years” — the reaction was one of joy, not relief. Sure there was some relief, but just the relief that we would no longer hear or read the partially-baked ramblings of those who coveted Ovechkin from afar, and those with pretend fingers on pretend pulses of the hockey heartbeat here in the District.

Seriously. The people who have watched this guy play here for the last two and a half years know that there really wasn’t a trade package out there among the other 29 teams that would have been worth the Caps’ while. Players like Ovechkin don’t come down the pike that often. And teams don’t trade guys like that when they’re 22 years old, and they don’t let them walk to pie-in-the-sky RFA offer sheets, either.

The Caps said they wanted Ovie, and Ovie said he wanted to stay. We believed, but others did not. We knew it would get done, it was just a matter of when and how much. Caps GM George McPhee confirmed tonight that talks to retain Ovechkin began last April and that he and the star Caps winger met over the summer in France to further the discussions.

Still not sure why no one reported on that rendezvous.

Rampant speculation and rumor-flinging was the order of the day today, and lots of erroneous info found premature publication prior to the official announcement, which came around 6:30 p.m. The rush to be first is sometimes greater than the rush to be right, and Leonsis tossed a barb toward those who had it wrong:

“I’ll also enjoy tweaking a couple of you on the reporting because you guys weren’t even close with some of this stuff that was floating out there. I’m going to enjoy going through the historical. It was about as close as [those who said], ‘Hillary [Clinton] is going to lose by 20 points in New Hampshire.'”

The season-ticket holder’s party is always a fun night, and it coincided with tonight’s event. Nobody who was there will ever forget this one. With the team on a 10-4-3 roll in its last 17 games and its best player locked up for the long haul, tonight will go down as a red-letter day in Capitals history. I had a blast meeting people who read D&C, listen to the podcast, and love them some Caps and some hockey, including a few who have blogs of their own. (That also goes for the two guys I chatted with during the second intermission of Wednesday’s win over Colorado, the guys who made the drive from Harrisonburg.) Thanks to all of you for making the climb to the press level and taking the time to say hello.

There are plenty of good hockey fans in these parts, and in these surrounding parts. And my bet is that you’re going to start seeing more and more of them filling the seats at Verizon Center before too long. I also like the odds of those good folks witnessing a Stanley Cup banner being raised to the Phone Booth rafters at some time(s) during the upcoming 13 years. Ovie isn’t the only brilliant young player on this team. Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom stuck around to watch the post-party press conference tonight.

It feels like morning in Washington.

The wags, the scribes and the talking heads can talk all they want about Washington being a hockey outpost. The same could be said for Detroit a few years back. These things run in cycles, and the Caps are cycling in the right direction now.

Alex Ovechkin decided he wanted to stay in Washington, to play in Washington. For the next 13 seasons. He chose us.

So we’ve got that going for us. Which is nice.

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29 Comments on “Not to Worry, Kid(s)”

  1. fnord42 Says:

    hey mike, i’m really glad about the ovechkin signing and i was on the phone with my mom when i heard the news (i think i may have broken her ear drum). i remember when new york locked up dipetro for 15 years and i asked you and the guys at caps report if you thought the caps should do something like with ovie. i remember everyone got a big kick out of the e-mail and no one seemed to take it very seriously; albeit, i also talk about cake, tom waits and wanting my free jersey in the same e-mail). i was listening to tsn.ca and they were saying it was a stupid deal and that ovie is not worth it and they would rather have crosby before ovy. but, i wonder and i will ask this aloud. the gist of the argument seems to lie on the premise that like yashin/jagr, once the money is there, the motivation is gone. i find that argument flawed because ovie seems to skate hard every shift, every night. but do you think the real reason many media types (especially our friends in canada) are just plain ol’ jealous that ovie will be in d.c. and not in canada? in all honesty, i think 9 million a year, and then 10 million is actually gonig to turn out to be a great deal for the caps. i’ve maintained since the start of this season that ovie pretty much deserves to be the highest paid player in the league (or close to it), and i’ll make the bold prediction that this will not effect his perfomance in any negative way, and will boost season ticket sales. do you think that this singing will attract other free agents who might want to play with ovechkin? thanks for reading all of this. in the immortal words of tom waits, ‘step right up, everyone’s a winner’….

  2. nvasauxfan Says:

    Thanks Vogs, Great day for the Caps. Do you think it will be a problem fitting Green, Backstrom and eventually Alzner under the cap?

  3. Janet Says:

    I am just hoping we get Green signed pretty quickly too. That kid is a gem and they need to ink him too. I am sure all the rumors about Green will start to heat up. I just hope the Caps are as committed to him.

  4. OrderedChaos Says:

    Hee hee, excellent “Caddyshack” reference to close out the article Mike! Enjoyable read as always.

  5. Jeremy Says:

    I have to disagree with the statement that you could have called Detroit a “hockey outpost” a few years back. I grew up there, and granted the Wings were aweful in the 80s (the Dead Things), the area has never been a hockey outpost. Even during those bad times, youth hockey up through high school and college hockey was big. Even during those years, Detroit was not a ‘hockey outpost.’ Just because a team can’t draw fans, doesn’t mean hockey isn’t a beloved sport. Here in DC, I see the Caps gaining more attention, but it never has, and never will, compare to Detroit.

  6. SovSport Says:

    Mike,

    Nice post. As always.

  7. Mike L Says:

    Great posting… love the Caddyshack reference (one of the all time greats, right up there with This is Spinal Tap, Animal House and The Princess Bride.)

    That Ovie was going to be a Cap after this season was obvious, but that it didn’t come down to matching a wacky offer sheet from Kevin Lowe in Edmonton (who you know is looking to stick it to the Caps for the Nylander thing) is a good thing. The Caps now need to look at securing some of the other kids to long term deals (Backstron, Green, Schultz) and secure this team’s future.

    Honestly, I think that within 2-4 years the Stanley Cup will be awarded in DC…but unlike 1998, it’ll go to the home team.

  8. Luc Bertrand Says:

    Congratulations to Ovie, George McPhee, Ted Leonsis and all Washington Capitals real fans. It’s without any doubt one of the most memorable days of the 34-year history of the team. For sure, nobody in the whole world deserves 124 millions dollars over a 13-year span, but, in the hockey world and in professional sports, phenomenoms like Alex Ovechkin are very very rare. For sure, Ovie has tremendous statistics since his arrival in NHL, in addition to an uncommon steadiness and reliability. But, what makes Alex in a class that cannot be compared with the one of Jaromir Jagr or Alexei Yashin is that the Caps star left winger comes to Verizon Center and all of the other NHL ice rinks to throw everything he has to make the Caps win and give a good show every night. The other difference (and I am very fond of it) is the fact that Alex seems to enjoy playing in Washington so much that he didn’t try to verify whether the other teams would challenge the Caps offer. I consider we are either lucky to retain him given the fact that the Caps have, most of the time, been disappointing in the playoffs up to now, or Caps management has done a terrific job to show him he will be the franchise player for as long he would want to play in Washington.

    I am very proud of this big achievement by Caps management and fans, because I was rather upset when the team drafted Jeff Halpern, a hard working native from the DC area I really appreciated. For sure, Ovechkin has a hell more talent than Jeff and rare gems like him must never been traded. Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Jeff Schultz are really promising players, but it is still too early to tell whether they are concession players too. If such is the case, I believe the Washington Capitals might be the next dynasty to collect Stanley Cups in the years to come. This would be good news for all the concessions that are in a small hockey market or those that have to compete with long time powerhouses in the close neighborhood.

    So, Caps fans, let’s celebrate! This one’s for you! You deserve what’s going on since Bruce Boudreau took over for your very long patience over the years.

    As in the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins with Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr or Sydney Crosby, or the Los Angeles Kings with Wayne Gretzky, there might be “occasional”, “opportunist” Caps fans who will blossom throughout NHL in the next few years, especially if the Caps succeed to win the Cup or show great hockey in the playoffs, but you will always be the only REAL fans!

  9. OV_Fan Says:

    Anyone not at the event last night missed a heck of an announcement. Ted started off by telling us that the reports were wrong and the team had not signed OV to a six year deal. Then he paused and let it sink in; you could literally see the crowd deflate and slump over in their seats. What a set-up! Then he announced the 13 year deal! There was joy, relief, screaming, cheering, general chaos. What a night!

  10. Muddapucker Says:

    Mike,

    Did Ted really have any choice than to sign OV to the contract? If he didn’t, someone else would have. He had to protect his franchise.

    If it doesn’t work and he has to sell the franchise, its worth a heckuva a lot more with OV as a long term asset than it would be without him.

    Can you imagine the reception he would get moving to Hamilton with OV as opposed to without him?

    Brilliant business move. Lets hope the Caps do well in DC and it never comes to that. The DC fans better support the Caps so Ted can generate the funds needed to field a competitive team along with OV. One star can’t do it alone.

    Ted has raised the ante with DC fans he will need their support more than ever in terms of ticket sales. If it doesn’t happen, you can bid the team adieu… Its up to the Caps fans in large part now. If they come out and support this team and generate the revenues needed to field competitive team then this town has every reason to be optimistic. If they don’t, Ted is going to have to do something… either sell the franchise or move it. He has big time contractual obligations.

    He simply has to have the revenue to be able to afford to approach the cap limits otherwise one man will have too high a percentage and we all know it takes more than one.

    Thanks for rolling the dice Ted and going for it. You are trying to hit the homerun with OV for the Caps. I hope the fans recognize it and appreciate and will back the team with ticket sales.

  11. dumpnchase Says:

    fnord,
    You’re a visionary. And you’re right, he won’t play any different. His motor runs all the time and this won’t change anything. And I’ll see your Waits reference … Volume, volume, turn up the volume. How do we do it? How do we do it?

    nvasaux and Janet,
    I think we’ll get Green, Alzner and Backstrom under the cap. Remember, the Caps have spent wisely for a few years now, smartly keeping space available because they knew they’d need it. And the cap should rise another seven mil or so next season. That increase alone will be enough to fit Ovie’s raise.

    Jeremy,
    I’m a Lansing-born boy myself, and I come from a long line of automotive-industry working Wings fans. In the 1970s and 1980s, they missed the playoffs 15 times in 17 years in an era where everyone pretty much made the playoffs. Their building was empty night after night, and the franchise was in a hopeless wreck until Mike Ilitch came along on his white horse. You’re right when you say that youth and college hockey in that area have long been vibrant, though. I probably erred by saying “a few years back” instead of “a few decades back.”

    Mike L,
    I know you’ve been waiting a long time for that Cup, but I feel like it’s there for the taking now, sometime in that 2-4 year window. A lot can happen as we all know, but we seem to be just a couple pieces away now.

    Luc,
    You’re right. If there’s anyone you take this sort of calculated risk with, it’s Ovie. I think it’s gonna work out fine, and the next 13 years should be very interesting and hopefully fruitful for the Caps and their fans.

    OV,
    FOr those of us who were there, it was unforgettable. Even though I knew how Ted was going to play it before he went on stage, he did it with perfect timing and I got chills when the roar went up. Unforgettable night.

    Mudda,
    You’re exactly right, and that was one of the points of my post. The reporters and rumormongers never had a horse in this race, because no savvy business man is going to lose an asset like Ovie when he’s still a few years shy of his prime. Most of us here knew it wasn’t a problem, but it was irritating after a while to keep reading all the crap out there.

  12. pgreene Says:

    best last line of a blog post ever. i’m thinking having ovechkin locked up for 13 years is on par with total consciousness.

    it’s a great day to be a caps fan.

  13. Chris Capligner Says:

    Just wanted to thank you for taking the time out in the Colorado game to come over and talk to myself and my friend. We really appreciated the conversation! It was a welcome change to have a convo with someone that actually know hockey haha as Living in Harrisonburg there arent to many hockey fans around let alone Caps fans. Thanks again!

    – One of the guys that you talked to in the 2nd intermission from Harrisonburg!

  14. Turk from Alaska Says:

    Not only is Ovie staying in Washington… the Caps are too. I mean really, had they not kept him in D.C. they might as well just pack up and bolt like the Colts in ’84.

    I can’t help but think that this is, along with BB getting the call up after Hanlon was let go, is the keystone of some really great hockey in Washington.

    Shoveling snow here in Alaska,
    ~Turk

  15. JJ Williams (USHockeyPhenom) Says:

    Hey mike, I’m the other guy who was with Chris that met you during the 2nd intermission at the Avs game. We really do appreciate you coming over and talking good hockey with us for a good 15 minutes. As Chris said, there really aren’t too many people who know what hockey is or know very little about it down here at James Madison University. Also, thanks so much for continuing doing the Capitals Report and PreCap. It’s a great way to get through to fans, and I can say for sure that the people who aren’t in the immediate DC area really really appreciate it. You all are doing a great job to market the caps and keep fans interested!

    -The other guy who talked to you in the 2nd intermission from Harrisonburg haha

  16. Jeremy Says:

    Mike, Thanks for the clarification. What I read was that the city was a hockey outpost – I think you were referring more to the team. Anyway, having spent 25 years there, and the last three in DC, I can see the differences – but I think things are improving around here quite a bit.

  17. capscool Says:

    ov is the best nhl player

  18. capscool Says:

    Im so glad Ovechkin is staying with the caps without him the caps would be getting 21 points a season like they did in 75 … maybe more than 21 I hope he wins the hart trophy

  19. Mike L Says:

    I’ve been waiting since 1985…and I haven’t felt it was this close since 1986 (If we beat the Rangers in that series, we go all the way to the Cup…) Obviously in 1998 I felt pretty confident (esp. after eliminating Boston), and I thought it might happen in 2002-03…

    The Caps still have some needs but most of them have been filled, and from some new sources: Green has gone from being a great prospect to a terrific young d-man. Adding Nylander was a coup that will really help the offense. I’d still like a big stopper on defense (will Schultz be able to step up into that role, or Jurcina?) and another 20-25 goal winger (or have Viktor get some snakebite antidote…).

    Right now the Caps have:
    1) Argubly the best player in the NHL
    2) A defensive corps that ranks offensively among the best in the NHL
    3) Some great face-off guys (Nylander, Gordon)
    4) A future Selke Trophy winner in Boyd Gordon

    There is a lot to like here…

    PS. I wonder what your friend at the NY Post has to say about the Ovechkin signing…

  20. DMPtheBCCapsfan Says:

    I was so happy to see the deal go down and agreed with every penny that went to Ovy I mean Crosby gets 8.7 mil for the next 8 years whats wrong with Ovy getting about the same for 5 years more. Sure everyone is scared he might go Russian like Yashin, or Federov. But he said something after that neither of them did once they got the big deal. “I want to win, I want to bring the stanley cup to Washington.” I personally have no doubts that he will. With him locked in he will be a huge trading vantage point to get free agents, cause who doesn’t want to play with Ovy. Im sure that why Nylander one of the best set up men came back instead of going elsewhere. This will probably also be key to locking in the other prospects.

  21. DMPtheBCCapsfan Says:

    As an after thought. Although the wins are coming now with BB behind the bench. I still can’t see a cup without a more prolific goalie in net. As much as I would like to see Kolzig lift it in uniform, seeing as I don’t think anybody has been part of that organization as long as him. I just think winning the cup is just that much out of reach. Sorry.

  22. BONDRA12 Says:

    NEW TED WOULD GET THE CONTRACT DONE. NOW THE CLASSY THING TO DO WOULD BE TO SIGN BONDRA FOR A DAY SO HE COULD RETIRE A CAP. THEN RETIRE TWO NUMBERS 11 AND 12.

  23. dmg Says:

    Mike L.,

    I think Steckel is a better faceoff man than Nylander, but it’s true the Caps are solid there and it’s an unappreciated part of the game.

  24. ovgr8 Says:

    Do you think Ovechkin will win the Hart trophy this year

  25. DMPtheBCCapsfan Says:

    I personaly don’t I think it would go to either Lecaveiler being the leading scorer for the last place team, think of where they would be with out him. Or even Kovalchuk because of how he scores like 35% of Atlantas goals. However I wouldn’t be surprised if BB won the Jack Adams.

  26. Mike L Says:

    DMG,

    I took a look, you’re right, although the regular face-off winner on the Caps is Gordon (55.6%), Steckel is next at 52.4%, then Laich at 51.5%. Nylander is actually below average at 49.2%, although he is still the #4 guy on the teams (Kozlov and Backstrom are worse). Of course, Nylander is playing on one of the top two scoring lines every night, so he is bound to be facing good face off guys (Brind’amour for example)…

    The Caps face off percentage is good, but nowhere near as good as it was in the late 1990s, early 2000s when the #3 guy was Nikolishin (who would routinely win at 54-56% rate) because of Oates and Hunter who were always in the high 50s.

    Still, if the #4 guy is just under 50%, we’re doing well.

  27. Mike L Says:

    As for the Hart Trophy, right now it’s Jarome Iginla’s to lose….


  28. [...] quote Mike Vogel, “It feels like morning in Washington.” I may be displaced in the [...]


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