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Capitals owner Leonsis named top CEO by Washington Business Journal

Helped deliver city's first Stanley Cup championship, will be honored Dec. 6

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Ted Leonsis was named CEO of the Year by the Washington Business Journal on Monday.

The Washington Capitals owner, who will be honored by the publication at the Watergate Hotel in Washington on Dec. 6, helped bring the city its first major professional sports championship since 1992 when the Capitals won the Stanley Cup last season. It was the first time they won the Cup in their 44-season history and the culmination of 19 years of work since Leonsis bought the team from Abe Pollin in 1999.

"I never lost sight of what the higher calling here was," Leonsis said earlier this month. "I said a million times I want to sell a lot of tickets, get TV ratings, make the playoffs, even win a Stanley Cup. We want to make this big, lifelong memory and just have this common positive touchpoint between families and friends and moms and dads. So that to me has been the most self-satisfying thing, having people come up to me and hugging.

"It's not, 'You won the Stanley Cup.' It was, 'We did this together.' "

In the article naming Leonsis as CEO of the Year, Washington Business Journal Editor-in-Chief Douglas Fruehling described the criteria for the award as "someone who moves his or her company or organization -- and the region and its economy -- forward in a positive way during the year."

Video: Ted Leonsis speaks at the championship parade

Leonsis has done that with the Capitals. The 61-year-old's vision for the team and the city has been realized in the 14 seasons since Alex Ovechkin, the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, joined the Capitals in 2005-06 and reached its fruition with a Cup-clinching 4-3 victory against the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on June 7.

That night, Capital One Arena in Washington was sold out for a viewing party and the streets surrounding the arena were filled with thousands of fans who watched the game on large video screens. On June 12, hundreds of thousands attended the Capitals' victory parade down Constitution Avenue and a rally at the National Mall in downtown Washington.

The celebrating didn't end then for Leonsis; the Washington Valor, one of two Arena Football League team he owns, won the Arena Bowl on July 28, and his WNBA team, the Washington Mystics, reached the Finals before losing to Seattle on Sept. 12.

"There were moments that I'm sure everyone was insecure and I'm by nature [an optimist] and I just believed that if [the Capitals] made the playoffs often enough and we spent to the max and we gave them the best facilities, we'd win it," Leonsis said. "And I'm sure there were times when [skeptics] would say, 'You're being delusional,' and we did it."

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