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Caps owner Ted Leonsis sounds off at Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox

Sep 4, 2010, 6:38 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for tedleonsis3.jpgWhile others have said their piece about the Ilya Kovalchuk contract resolution, sometimes the fallout from that can be that words get exchanged between interested parties. Take Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox. Cox’s response to the resolution declares that the resolution has pitted owners against other owners when discussing the monster deals signed by the likes of Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa. In an effort to drum up a bit more attention, Cox decides to add a few more names to his list.

Yet in recent years, despite the constant admonitions of Bettman and his right-hand man, Bill Daly, not to sign contracts with double-digit terms or these torqued arrangements designed to give players huge dollars with reduced cap hits, one after another these Bettman “supporters” have ignored him.

Ted Leonsis, to name another, was a hawk during the last labour struggle and now drinks deeply and gratefully from the revenue-sharing trough. The president of his Washington Capitals, Dick Patrick, is part of one of hockey’s most famous families and a committed league man.

But when they wanted to give Alexander Ovechkin a 13-year, $124 million contract, one they knew Bettman wouldn’t approve of, they did it anyway. That encouraged others, like the bizarre Tampa twosome of Len Barrie and Oren Koules, to engineer a deal with Vinny Lecavalier that started with a $10 million salary and wound down to $1 million.

Picking out Ted Leonsis is a bit of an interesting strategy. Not just because Cox recently published a book built around the same superstar in Ovechkin but also because Ted Leonsis doesn’t exactly back down from the media spotlight. In fact, Leonsis is a bit of a blogger in his own right and you’d better believe he had a response for Damien Cox.

The 13 year deal signed by Alex Ovechkin was a simple deal. His salary is straight-lined across the life of his contract. There was never an issue with the structure of the contract with the NHL. It was all done in the light of day – honest and transparent. By the rules. The writer of this article knows that. He is just mad because he didn’t have access to Alex Ovechkin when he wrote his book. We don’t agree with his point of view in his book and we won’t have anything to do with him and his book now. He is on his own.

Alex’s contract was NOT a long term front-loaded contract structured to achieve artificial low contract value for the purpose of achieving certain advantages under the salary cap. Nor was Backstrom’s deal. That is why they were approved and why we played by the rules. Alex will still be young enough when his deal ends to sign another contract too! As will Backstrom. The writer knows that. Why he lumps the deal in with these other deals is just mean-spirited and inspired by other factors known only to him.

The writer can say anything he wants about me. He doesn’t scare me. :-) He just can’t distort facts. We won’t let him and he is being called out on this one right here and now.

Yes, Leonsis does have a smiley in there. Just try to move on from that focus on the point at hand that Leonsis delivered a smoking retort to Damien Cox.

Ovechkin’s contract was never in question at all and while it was a large and landmark deal for both him and the NHL, it was never singled out as one that bent the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. A large contract doesn’t automatically make it a potentially illegal one and Leonsis is right to call Cox out on the carpet for even bringing them into the discussion.

As for Cox, being a columnist means generating discussion and bringing attention to yourself be it good or bad. Mission accomplished.

  1. NYRFTW - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:26 PM

    I can;t believe Ted Leonsis would even respond to some scrub writer in Toronto. Who is Damien Cox? If he was that important he would be known, but he’s not. I could understand responding to someone like Don Cherry, but to Damien Cox lollollollolol. At least Ted was nice enough to acknowledge him when in fact he didn’t have to! Good job Ted!!!!!

  2. Matt - Sep 4, 2010 at 8:48 PM

    Damien Cox: Causing trouble in TWO sports. He said the “s” word in terms of the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista not too long ago.
    I normally don’t defend the Caps on principle, but Ted’s in the right here. Cox is a hack.

  3. REB - Sep 4, 2010 at 9:03 PM

    The Toronto Star is a communist rag full of hacks, Damien Cox would sell his own home team out for a little press (ie the Bautista affair).

  4. Duncan - Sep 5, 2010 at 9:31 PM

    I understand Cox is going to be hated here because of his book about Ovechkin. It’s obvious Ted doesn’t like him him and (based on the excerpts I’ve read) I think most Caps fans be pleased with what he wrote.
    So, if you can answer objectively, is it true what Cox says about the NHL league office frowning on long term deals (whether or not they are structured as front-end loaded deals like Pronger and Kovelchuck’s or straight-line deals, like Ovechkin and Backstrom’s?
    Does anyone know?

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