Sales of newspapers in Montreal are going to plummet, and somewhere some fifth-grade 2016 draft-eligible kid is sleeping soundly, completely oblivious to the fact that he’s going to be the cornerstone piece of Nashville’s next trade pitch to get Alex Ovechkin — in 2021.
Here in Washington, we weren’t worried much. The only smart thing to do was to sign Ovechkin and for as long a term as reasonably possible. Done and done. None of my media cohorts here and few of the many fans with whom I interact regularly were ever truly worried that the No. 8 car wouldn’t be wheeling around the Verizon track for the foreseeable future.
When Ted Leonsis made the announcement tonight — first playfully teasing and milking it to say “the rumors of a six-year deal are wrong … we signed him for 13 years” — the reaction was one of joy, not relief. Sure there was some relief, but just the relief that we would no longer hear or read the partially-baked ramblings of those who coveted Ovechkin from afar, and those with pretend fingers on pretend pulses of the hockey heartbeat here in the District.
Seriously. The people who have watched this guy play here for the last two and a half years know that there really wasn’t a trade package out there among the other 29 teams that would have been worth the Caps’ while. Players like Ovechkin don’t come down the pike that often. And teams don’t trade guys like that when they’re 22 years old, and they don’t let them walk to pie-in-the-sky RFA offer sheets, either.
The Caps said they wanted Ovie, and Ovie said he wanted to stay. We believed, but others did not. We knew it would get done, it was just a matter of when and how much. Caps GM George McPhee confirmed tonight that talks to retain Ovechkin began last April and that he and the star Caps winger met over the summer in France to further the discussions.
Still not sure why no one reported on that rendezvous.
Rampant speculation and rumor-flinging was the order of the day today, and lots of erroneous info found premature publication prior to the official announcement, which came around 6:30 p.m. The rush to be first is sometimes greater than the rush to be right, and Leonsis tossed a barb toward those who had it wrong:
“I’ll also enjoy tweaking a couple of you on the reporting because you guys weren’t even close with some of this stuff that was floating out there. I’m going to enjoy going through the historical. It was about as close as [those who said], ‘Hillary [Clinton] is going to lose by 20 points in New Hampshire.’”
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