NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in Washington DC yesterday. While he was in town, he took in the Caps-Pens rivalry game from the owner’s box at Verizon Center. Bettman also held court with the local media.
When asked about the growth of hockey in the DC Area over the last decade, Bettman marveled at the job both Alex Ovechkin and Ted Leonsis have done. Seconded.
“It’s the Ovechkin era and there’s an era that’s a little bit longer than that one and I would call that the [Ted] Leonsis era,” Bettman said beaming. “I think Ted’s ownership of this franchise has been nothing short of phenomenal in terms of how the community has been engaged and in terms of how fans have connected with and interacted with this franchise; the stability of ownership and management has been very important.”
Then it got weird. Bettman credited (I think) definitely-not-Washington Capital Evgeni Malkin.
“As important to the fan base as Ovi is and has been, and the other [Caps] players– Geno’s another good example. We’re a team sport,” Bettman said, maybe confusing Malkin for Nicklas Backstrom. “But I wouldn’t minimize Ovi’s impact. To the contrary, I think it’s been phenomenal.”
To be fair, public speaking is hard, and we’re just picking on Gary. And besides, Malkin really has helped galvanize Caps fans. We hate him, his team, and his stupid Conn Smythe-winning face.
“There were people, not me, who were surprised that there would be 40,000 people on New Year’s Day at National Park and that there would be 20,000 at 9 o’clock in the morning at the Fanfest,” Bettman concluded. “This has turned out to be, which we always believed it could be, a terrific hockey market.”
%$#@ you, Geno.
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