NEW YORK -- The NHL has suspended Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis
for one week and the team has been fined $100,000 following an incident between Leonsis and a fan.
Jason Hammer told The Washington Post that Leonsis placed his hands on
his neck and tossed him down to the ground after the Capitals' home loss to
Leonsis, a vice chairman of America Online, later apologized to Hammer, a
20-year-old Caps season-ticket holder who had taunted the owner.
In issuing the penalties to Leonsis and the Caps, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, "I have been briefed by NHL Security on the incident and understand that Ted Leonsis and Jason Hammer have amicably put this matter behind
"Nevertheless, as in other instances involving players, coaches or
managers, we hold all members of the NHL family to a higher standard than
the general public. Even in those cases when there were instances of
alleged provocation, we have made it clear that NHL personnel need to do
everything possible to avoid a confrontation with fans and the failure to
do so is not acceptable."
Leonsis can have no contact with the team, including attending any games or other team functions, for a week.
On Tuesday, Caps spokesman Kurt Kehl said Leonis was "embarrassed. He regrets the incident happened. He reached out to the fan.''
In describing the incident, Hammer told the Post, "The security guards came and broke it up, and pulled me away
to the side. But Ted was still trying to come at
Other witnesses offered different versions to the Post.
Hammer told the Post he led a derisive chant directed toward the
owner during the game and held a sign that read: "Caps Hockey; AOL
Stock -- See a Pattern?"
Hammer said he did not intend to press charges.
"I think both he and I are going to drop it and continue on and
have it be like that," he told the newspaper.
Leonsis, 48, has a reputation as one of the more fan-friendly
chief executives in professional sports. He often can be seen
personally greeting spectators at Capitals home games and he
answers fans' e-mails.
Sunday's game was the team's first at home since it traded star
forward Jaromir Jagr to the New York Rangers. The Capitals have
languished at the bottom of the NHL standings this season.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.