For a long while this summer former Capitals winger Mike Knuble had no idea if he would don an NHL jersey again. But he was okay with that. He spent those months still keeping in shape in case an opportunity presented itself, but also doing what he wanted. He shuttled his kids to and from hockey practice back home in East Grand Rapids, Mich. He earned a professional tryout contract with the Detroit Red Wings in the days after the NHL lockout ended and skated with the team’s AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids when that didn’t work out.
But that process kept Knuble’s name in the game and when the Philadelphia Flyers lost winger Scott Hartnell to a broken foot suffered in a Jan. 22 game against New Jersey they immediately turned to their former player. Knuble played with the Flyers for four years between 2005-06 and 2008-09. He spent the next three years in Washington before the team decided to part ways after last season. There was no way to know if that was the end for Knuble.
“I don’t think I would have gone anywhere. I wasn’t going to go chasing it,” Knuble said. “There are probably just a few teams that I would have considered, in places that mean something to me. I wasn’t just going to go chase it just to sign somewhere.”
Knuble has one assist in three games since signing again with Philadelphia. Both teams are struggling with the Caps blowing two third-period leads on a road trip to Ottawa and Toronto in a pair of 3-2 losses. The Flyers are 0-2 and finishing a three-game road trip to Tampa Bay, New York and Washington and also have five losses overall.
“And I’m as surprised we’re just a step better. Everybody’s coming out of the gate differently,” Knuble said if he was surprised by the Caps’ struggles early. “It’s a tough year, it’s very unpredictable for people, for GMs, for staff to gauge their team coming out of training camp. You’re right into the games and now you’ve got to see what your team is lacking and what your team needs – basically trial by fire in the middle of games.”
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