Ted Leonsis declined to be interviewed for the story on the lack of direction and communication that has damaged the Capitals over the past four seasons. But on Saturday, the owner weighed in on one particular section of the piece that addressed General Manager George McPhee’s strained relationship with NHL player agents.
Even with persistent vacancies, the Capitals haven’t been able to find long-term solutions. According to multiple league sources, that can be attributed partly to what they describe as McPhee’s adversarial relationship with player agents, whose grievances include his refusal to communicate with them directly and limiting their post game access to clients.
When a key free agent or a player with a no-trade clause — one who can name what teams he will play for — is available, the Capitals intentionally aren’t on the list, one NHL agent explained.
While he didn’t address the problem of agents omitting the Capitals as a destination for their clients because of the tension, Leonsis explained the team’s postgame policy of asking agents to wait for players in the guest lounge in Verizon Center.
He also detailed the team’s approach to having assistant general manager Don Fishman work with agents.
“Also, we have had a system set up where by Don Fishman is the main point of contact for managing the cap, and dealing with agents on a day to day and player by player basis as to contracts. Don is our long-term “Capologist”. He is an attorney and this is his main responsibility in our franchise. To empower him, and to foster clear communications, we don’t encourage agents to call executives throughout the franchise. We have created, like many organizations, an easy-to-understand point of contact system. It has been in place for many years. Again, this seems to be an issue with some agents.”