Ted Leonsis is now the principal owner of both the Washington Capitals and the Washington Wizards after the sale went through today after approval by the NBA Board of Governors. While it was a foregone conclusion that Leonsis would take over after Abe Pollin passed away, it still marks as a significant and hopefully positive transition for a struggling franchise. I think David Stern summed up that transition very well,
The transaction signifies the end of an era and a passing of the torch into very capable hands. We have long admired what Ted has done with the Washington Capitals in terms of sales, marketing and outreach in the community, and we look forward to him bringing those skills to bear for the Wizards.
My feelings take it a step further. I feel that this ownership change is good for the Wizards and here are some of the reasons why. Leonsis has shown a knack to help turn teams around. It’s easy to forget how awful the Caps were just a few years ago, not they sit among the NHL elite with Alex Ovechkin,Nick Backstrom and gang. Leonsis now has the same opportunity to build around a young star player with the Wizards winning the draft lottery and the chance to draft John Wall.
It’s amazing the stark contrast of the Phone Booth on any given day. One day it is rockin’ with red clad hockey fans. Yet when the Wizards are playing at the exact same building, it has the feeling of being a mildly entertaining corporate party. Now a lot of that has to do with winning and winning cures a lot of ills. That being said, Leonsis is innovative and willing to try a number of different tactics to bring more excitement to his sports teams. I have full confidence now that with Leonsis as the principal owner of the Wizards that good times are ahead.
Now that Ted is charge is will be interesting to see what he does with Ernie Grunfeld, the general manager, and Flip Saunders, the head coach. My opinion is that Flip Saunders will be safe. Ernie Grunfeld, on the other hand, might be replaced due to some of his questionable decisions including the signing of Gilbert Arenas to 119 million dollar contract for 6 years when they were the only bidders.
The stars have started to align for the Wizards. It’s good to see someone with the track record of Ted Leonsis come in and hopefully provide a much needed spark for this team.
Do you think Leonsis will have the same success with the Wizards that he had with the Caps? Do you think there needs to be any significant changes in the front office and on the coaching staff?