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Inside the NHL

Capital Owner, Fan Fight After Defeat

January 27, 2004|Jason La Canfora | The Washington Post

Washington Capital owner Ted Leonsis was involved in a physical altercation with a season-ticket holder at the MCI Center on Sunday night after being taunted and jeered by fans during the team's loss to Philadelphia, the Capitals' first home game since Leonsis traded All-Star winger Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers.

The fan, Jason Hammer, 20, a Washington, D.C., resident, said Leonsis grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground after he had led a mocking chant of Leonsis during the game and hoisted a sign chiding him. Some witnesses explained the confrontation differently, offering varying accounts of the severity of the clash.

Even so, Leonsis called Hammer on Monday to apologize for putting his hands on him and invited Hammer to join him in his owner's suite for the team's next home game. Leonsis declined to comment publicly on the matter. Hammer said he would not press charges against Leonsis.

"Ted called me personally to apologize and was very honest and gentleman-like, and I appreciated the call," Hammer said.

Leonsis, 48, is a gregarious team owner who routinely speaks with fans during games and responds to e-mails from Capitals' followers. But he has been under increasing pressure, on and off the ice, this season because the Capitals have skated to the second-worst record in the NHL and are projecting losses of close to $30 million. He traded Jagr on Friday largely to partially ease the burden of his $11-million annual salary.

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