An excellent article by Corey Masisak about Ovechkin's fifth place in All-Star voting. One thing is clear, Ovechkin cannot sell tickets in Washington, he does it in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, anywhere away from Washington. It's getting noticed (see Great open spaces in Washington).
And if Ovechkin, who has twice as many video clips on YouTube than Crosby, can't, who can?
What it tells Ted as a businessman? I can only tell that Ovechkin is still not signed and wild rumors are spreading all over the internet about Ovechkin's possibility of ending up in a better hockey place than Washington. As Victor Fedorov said, there's always something behind every leak to the media.
From Washignton Times by Corey Masisak (Dec. 30, 2007):
I am sure Alex is getting plenty of support in other markets. All over this country and in Canada especially, plenty of nine-year old kids and dads alike probably started their ballots with Crosby and Ovechkin and then added a hometown forward in Eastern Conference markets and another guy in Western Conference ones. I don't think it is out of line to suggest that Ovechkin's lack of support is at least in part because of the interest level in this town. The Caps are last in the league in attendance, at least according to the number that goes in the box score every night. Yes, they have been the worst team in the league for much of the season, but the Caps are still in the middle of the pack in road attendance, which is almost entirely because of Ovechkin and other hockey fans' desire to see him in person.
Others tell me all the time when the attendance problem comes up that people will show up at the Phone Booth when the team wins. I've only lived in this area since 2000, but I had no trouble getting playoff tickets when I was taking the metro in college from College Park when the Caps were still a consistent playoff contender. So I apologize if I am skeptical that just climbing to eighth or even fourth or fifth place in the conference standings will mean Verizon Center will suddenly be packed.
Again, maybe this all-star thing is really nothing at all, but it something a player agent would notice. Ovechkin does not have one of those right now, but he is probably going to have another one eventually. An agent's top two priorities are keeping the client happy and making said client as much money as possible. All-star voting is a sample of player popularity, which agents are happy to point out to potential representatives of companies for their clients to endorse products.
I don't think this a marketing issue in this city, either. The Caps do a really good job of getting their players out to public appearances and on local and national mediums. NHLPA execs Paul Kelly and Eric Lindros, who are adamant most teams need to market better, were very complimentary of the job the Caps are doing to market their players.
Alex has said on many occasions that he is happy in Washington. He also does not have an agent trying to steer him to a bigger (or at least a better) hockey market. But the other day Ovechkin was sitting with members of the media while his teammates were participating in the morning skate at Mellon Arena. He asked about the attendance that night, and Paul Steigerwald, the Penguins' television play-by-play guy, told him the building would be full, and the team had sold out 30-something games in a row. Ovechkin's response was not something to be taken as a unilateral strike against Washington, but he did not seem to think such a feat was possible at the Phone Booth. I pointed out to him that before he and Crosby came along, the Igloo was half empty almost every night.
So maybe none of this anything to do with anything, but I do not think I am making any absurd judgments or assertions. And who knows, maybe the voters will make a late rally for Ovechkin, but the voting does end on Wednesday. And Ovechkin will continue to be one of, if not the most exciting players in the league to watch, regardless of how many people vote for him or show up at Verizon Center.
Update: Everybody is dreaming to get Ovechkin :-)
From timesonline.com "Crosby needs assist" Dec. 31, 2007:
Here’s something that would be fun to do: Washington mega-scorer Alexander Ovechkin, 22, is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Offer Ovechkin what Crosby makes, then wait for the Capitals to match the offer. They would, but it would make for a marvelous week of dreaming.
If this wildest dream became a reality, (don't forget Malkin and Alex are best friends) that would be the last nail to the Caps fans coffin.
Update: Jack Todd strikes again...
Spector's Note: Todd's leaving the Gazette to write fiction novels and it looks like he's getting a head start. OK, I know, cheap shot but I couldn't resist. Bottom line with Ovechkin is that unless he demands a trade the Capitals will re-sign him, and that includes matching any offer sheet he signs.
From Montreal Gazette, Dec. 31, 2007 by Jack Todd
Alexander the Great, redux: Washington fans were up in arms because, while writing from home with a bad cold, your MMQB missed the fact Alexander Semin had signed a multi-year contract before this season.
That will teach me to trust that wretched medium, the Internet - but it changes nothing. Alexander Ovechkin is still a great player stuck in a moribund franchise. He still loves Montreal and he could still, with the right offer, sign here as a restricted free agent.
The Canadiens would get the superstar skater they have coveted since Guy Lafleur's departure and Ovechkin would play in front of 21,273 at every home game, instead of a half-empty building where half the fans are there because they thought they were buying NBA tickets.
The bottom line is that Washington doesn't deserve Ovechkin and Montreal can have him - for a price.