Ted Leonsis’s pre-season apology tour also stopped by WTOP in advance of Thursday night’s press conference and free practice at Verizon Center.
“Kind of a little welcome back party,” the owner told the radio station. “We’re gonna try something, never been done. Open a practice at Verizon Center. Just open the doors, all our fans, anybody can come on in. If it’s raining out and it’s cold, I’ll bet you there’s gonna be 20,000 people in there. We’re gonna feed people, give them sodas and hot dogs. I’m very apologetic that we lost so many games, but enough talk about what was happening, it’s time to drop the puck.”
Then the host asked another question about Thursday’s event.
“I think the idea was let’s do a whole series of things that show 1, that we’re sorry, and 2, that you missed and we missed this great game,” the owner said. “The players have such talent and intensity. We’ve got 30 teams that are raring to go. I’ve been going to Kettler for our practices, and we’re sold out there pretty much every day. There’s a lot of pent-up emotion and pent-up demand, because people love hockey and they love the Caps.”
Leonsis was also asked if he feared a backlash from still-angry fans.
“I know that we have a lot to atone for,” he said. “The league, the union, the players, the owners certainly. But I do think that the game is so strong, and that the fans love the game so much that if we play really really hard, that people will understand that we strengthened the game during the negotiations. And it’s a 10-year deal, so we can put all that behind us and now just focus on who’s gonna make the playoffs and who’s gonna win the Cup.”