Bill's Rants

Capitals' move has teeth

January 12, 2008|By BILL ORDINE

Let's face it: Ice hockey has been a tough sell in Washington, particularly since the lockout.

In 2005-06, the first year back, the Capitals ranked 28th out of 30 NHL teams in average attendance. Last season, they were No. 27. This year through 20 games, they're No. 29, averaging 13,642. The franchises in Columbus, Ohio, and Nashville, Tenn., do better with teams that, like the Caps, are treading water.

Yet, Washington just gave 22-year-old superstar Alex Ovechkin a 13-year, $124 million extension. That's the first nine-number deal in hockey history and puts Ovechkin in a league with the mega-paycheck cashers in all sportsdom.

And it says a lot about Caps owner Ted Leonsis who, despite a daunting marketplace for his sport, has signaled that he's committed to a long-term strategy to make his franchise competitive.

Orioles fans can only hope.

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