- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 7, 2004

The Washington Capitals aren’t doing enough to cut costs.

Oh, sure, the cash-strapped club traded away Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander last week, the latest moves in a month-long fire sale that also has stripped the club of Robert Lang, Jaromir Jagr, Steve Konowalchuk and Peter Bondra. But that doesn’t mean they’re in the black. (And, no, we don’t mean the team’s alternate jerseys.)

The problem with payroll-reducing trades is that you still have to take on some scrub’s salary. No matter how small or insignificant it is. Moreover, the Caps have been bleeding millions for years — and by bleeding, we mean “Kill Bill: Vol. I”— and are bracing for a league-wide shutdown following the season.

So what’s a former Internet boom high-roller like Ted Leonsis to do?

In the spirit of fiscal prudence, The Washington Times offers a few other suggestions for cost containment:

OFFSHORE OUTSOURCING

The plan: Dozens of Fortune 500 firms have slashed overhead by shifting information technology jobs overseas, where labor is cheap, skilled and abundant. Why not follow the trend with the Caps’ too-pricey roster?

Cost benefit: India dominates in international men’s field hockey. And according to a study released last year, companies outsourcing back-office work to India save as much as 60 percent annually. You do the math.

Possible complications: Team becomes a wedge issue in the upcoming presidential campaign. Who will protect the North American worker?

USE EBAY

The plan: Sports fans can buy just about anything on the popular Internet auction site — tickets, memorabilia, the Dartmouth swim team. Surely someone out there needs his own authentic, mint-condition Olie Kolzig. He stops pucks. He pokes defensemen. He can keep those irritating squeegee guys off your new car. Bidding starts at $6.25million.

Cost benefit: Registration is fast, easy and, most important, free. Plus, those little star thingies will tell you if the bidder is reputable or not.

Possible complications: Team ships Kolzig to buyer in Tucson, then has the check bounce. Next time, use Pay Pal.

LOSE THE ICE

The plan: NHL clubs spend a bundle on arena crews, Zambonis and computer-operated refrigeration systems. Yet according to a recent Sports Illustrated article, ice quality has never been worse. So get rid of the slush already.

Cost benefit: Concrete costs little to maintain; inline skates are cheap and don’t have to be sharpened; twice as many moneymaking concerts and circuses can pack MCI Center.

Possible complications: Hastens hockey’s descent into Rollerball, the inevitable sport of the future; Chris Klein and LL Cool J replace Lemieux and Gretzky as the sport’s iconic figures.

“ROLL BACK” SALARIES

The plan: How does Wal-Mart save you 26 cents on a canister of shaving cream? By purchasing in vast quantities, enough to control marketplace demand and squeeze suppliers dry. If Ted Leonsis can figure out a way to buy up every other team in the league, he could do the same with player contracts — and dramatically reduce expenses.

Cost benefit: Hey, it works for Major League Soccer.

Possible complications: Might violate federal antitrust statutes; coming up with the scratch to buy out the rest of the NHL won’t be easy, now that AOL’s stock has tanked.

BYOG

The plan: Simple — bring your own gear. Hold an F Street yard/sidewalk sale to get rid of team-owned sticks, uniforms and pads. Then make the players provide their own. They can afford it, right?

Cost benefit: Hey, laundry costs money. And who needs a third jersey anyway?

Possible complications: Given greater purchasing control, ‘keepers will look even more like the Sta-Puff Marshmallow Man.

PLACE A CALL TO LUCIFER

The plan: In the Bible, Jesus asks, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Plenty, we say. Ted, baby, get on the horn. Make a deal.

Cost benefit: While we’re not sure what the going rate is for a soul these days — maybe Clay Aiken can fill us in — we’re willing to bet it’s enough to keep the Caps afloat during the forthcoming lockout.

Possible complications: Fire, brimstone and eternal damnation, unless you have Daniel Webster and/or Johnny Cochran on retainer.

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