Capitals' owner Ted Leonsis latest promise may have been spurred by sagging season ticket renewals. When talking to a couple of season ticket holders at an event, I asked if they had picked their seats for next season. "Are you kidding me?" One responded, "why wait another 3 years for them to be good."
Leonsis promised to aggressively pursue the free agent market as the Caps were only able to match their last season performance, playing their worst hockey late in the season. I have heard of at least two to three suite owners have not renewed for the next season. If the Capitals were to lose 25% of it's season ticket holders, it stands to lose roughly 1 to 1.5 million dollars in ticket revenue, perhaps worse. Not to mention if any advertisers have not signed on for another year here, that could be really bad.
It was evident that the Caps were hurting for season ticket renewals when they ran ads with 15 games still left in the season. I asked Mr. former ticket owner why he wasn't re-upping for another season. "It's all the same man," he said with a sort of resignation in his voice, "the promotions suck, the free crap sucks, and half the prizes they gave out at the [Buffalo] game went to mostly the other team's fans." I feel you buddy.
"So what would you like to see the Caps do?" I asked. "Get some cheerleaders, get some better games at [intermission]. Look, it's a losing team, everyone knows that. Why should some average Joe want to go see losers?" He also mentioned of the full season package he bought he went to a total of 10 to 15 games. He tried to give the tickets to people he worked with, maybe 2 or 3 took him up on his tickets for a couple of the games. For the rest of the season the seats collected dust.
It's not like the Caps lack talent, they just lack NHL talent. Leonsis needs a playoff team to seal the crack in the dam, or all of his season ticket holders will bolt for the door. Even though the Caps' management have said nothing about the loss of season ticket holders, you can see the beads of sweat on the foreheads. They certainly wouldn't confirm that they have lost any to a mere blogger.
The Capitals may have 5th pick in the draft, but many experts and hockey insiders say that the pool in this year's draft is 3 to 4 years from developing into NHL talent. Frankly, the Caps don't have that kind of time.
Just about every Capital player has bolted from town, many to join their countries teams for the World Championship, but others could not wait to get out of Dodge. I am sure many had their plane tickets for Sunday morning after the last home game. And the minor leaguers were sent down in the hopes of another Hershey Championship, while others just went home.
The frustration seems to seep into those who have supported the Caps best by purchasing season tickets. But for others, the whole reason for signing on the dotted line was to see an exciting team, and of course Alex Ovechkin.
"That kid is so good," my season ticket challenged friend added. "But, it's just him. I mean Kolzig is okay, but when that Russian is the only guy, you know they're going to bear down on him, shut him down." Not much fun watching a talent get smothered. "Would you get a new package next year if they signed some good talent?" I pondered to him. He scratched his chin and looked somewhere beyond me, "Naw."
One thing is for sure, the Caps will have to win the fans back. And winning cures all ills.