To say that Ted Leonsis is an optimist would be an understatement. Most recently, in an interview with “Inside the Locker Room” on ESPN 980, Leonsis had this to say regarding the state of the Washington Capitals:
“…my expectation is that this is the deepest team since I’ve owned the team. I don’t see any weaknesses, and I see that we’re prepared for injury.”
Now, I’m sure that Leonsis doesn’t actually think that the Caps are a perfect team. But if there is even a sliver of his being that genuinely subscribes to this fantasy, than I, as a lifelong Caps fan, am very alarmed.
For those that are unfamiliar with Ted Leonsis and his tenure as the Capitals’ owner, this sort of naïve, relentless positivity is not a new thing. Under his leadership, the Caps have either A) been a very bad team, or B) been a very good team that has somehow found increasingly tragic ways to lose in the playoffs. And yet, despite the heartbreak, Ted always sees the silver lining, and he always remains upbeat. This is a man who authored a book entitled “The Business of Happiness”. This is a man who “created a 101-item life-list following an early 1980s reckoning and has checked off 82 of the 101 things to do.” Basically, this is a man who, regardless of whatever pitfalls might come his way, is astonishingly content. Many would say that he “keeps life in perspective”, and that’s great; but for the average irrational, and hyper-emotional sports fan, he is absolutely infuriating.
No weaknesses? Really? I’m not going to argue that the Caps are some hopeless, train-wreck of a team, but they have A LOT of shortcomings, many of which have been on full display throughout the first five games of the season:
1. The Caps are, once again, comically bad on defense. If there were a statistic for the number of times a team possessed the puck in the defensive zone without successfully clearing it, the Caps would be leading the league.
2. Contrary to Ted’s assessment, the Caps have zero depth. The Caps would have an embarrassment of riches, but only if “riches” was defined as perennial third line wingers. Barring the unlikely scenario that each of them has a career year, who is going to provide the scoring if Alex Ovechkin runs cold, or gets hurt?
3. The goaltending has been shaky, at best. Yes, Braden Holtby has had a solid—and at times spectacular—start to his career, but with only 82 games of NHL experience, maybe it was a little early to crown him as the next franchise goalie.
Putting all of that aside, I do still believe that the Caps are a playoff team. I think they have played better than their record might indicate, and I think that, these first five games notwithstanding, it will be another good regular season. However, given the current roster, I also have no reason to expect anything less than horrifying, theatrical failure come playoff time.
Ted Leonsis’ insistence that this is a team without flaws is completely ludicrous. While his sunny outlook may lead to a happier life, and lower blood pressure, it certainly doesn’t lead to Stanley Cups. And for the legions of neurotic, scarred, and eternally pessimistic Caps fans, that’s all that really matters.