Friday, May 1, 2009

Ted Leonsis' Series Foreword

We Got the Peanuts and the Circus is in Town
Please read this article by Michael Wilbon in today’s Washington Post.

It refers to our pending series with Pittsburgh as a “circus” but also as a celebration of great talent and of high-spirited competitiveness between two very good young talent laden teams.

We all must remember that the circus is great family entertainment where safety, security and high value is of paramount importance which is our commitment to everyone.

We all get back to work today. We had a day to chill out and I must admit that no one now is thinking of the past but is now just focused on the immediate task at hand. The joy we felt after winning Game 7 against the Rangers is now long gone for the staff and the players. The specter of playing a great team in Round 2 is now on everyone’s mind.

Our opponent is a mirror image of our team. They have been rebuilt in a similar fashion only they are ahead of us in the plan as they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals last season. And this year, they also ended the season as one of the best teams in the entire NHL.

They have great goaltending; a strong D corps; a high scoring D man; edgy wings; veterans in the lineup; and two sublime world class centers. They also have a great ownership group; a terrific new coach; and a rabid and passionate fan base.

And soon they will have a much deserved world class facility to play in. It is a shame that both teams will have to play back to back games later in the series because the Pittsburgh building - against NHL rules - booked a series of concerts and forced the league to alter the playoff schedule. This is bad for the league, both fan bases and for the players.

The playoffs are very intense and physical and players need time to recoup. No one is advantaged by playing back to back games so no one can complain but it is unfortunate that the Yanni concert takes precedence over high quality NHL playoff hockey.

I also have stated publicly that I believe rivalries are forged in the playoffs and that Pittsburgh has certainly had the upper hand in our historic series. Until we get closer to them in terms of winning percentages in the playoffs, I understand why this isn’t yet a classic rivalry.

I am sure the league and the networks will set all sorts of ratings highs this series and that both fan bases will be on high alert with the passion and creativity flowing. This is the kind of series that you play the game to be involved in - great talent, high expectations and high drama. We need to embrace it. Extend it. Enjoy it and play to our capabilities.

This series represents the next step in the evolution for our team. This is a gigantic test for us. We will prepare well. Wish us luck. Start to save up those good vibes and we will see you all on Saturday at Verizon Center. Onward. Go Caps!