The Washington Capitals' new owners, Ted Leonsis and Jonathan Ledecky, made their first appearance at training camp yesterday, renewing acquaintances with players and touring the team's practice facility at Piney Orchard. Both left the arena optimistic about their club's chances this season and eager to unveil a new operating plan.
They appeared animated around the players, talking business and talking hockey. Leonsis, a billionaire America Online executive, was asked a few questions about AOL's recently declining stock price. Many players had purchased AOL stock long before Leonsis took over the team.
"I'm starting to feel comfortable," Leonsis said of his role as team owner. "I think if you talk to [General Manager] George McPhee, I think in the first couple of months he was thinking my point of view was different, and like a week ago I could see that change in him. I could see it in his face, the body language of, 'Oh, I get what you're doing.' And I'm starting to see that now with some of the key players and leaders. When you talk to Olie [Kolzig] now and [Peter] Bondra now, you can almost see it, like, 'Guess what? He's not a [jerk].' "
The owners, who purchased the team from Abe Pollin and Capitals President Dick Patrick, have outlined 100 things they have accomplished with the franchise since taking over. The list includes everything from changing the team's music at games to restructuring season ticket packages to making players and coaches more accessible to fans.
Leonsis said he and Ledecky plan to make public their list of changes next week.