Capitals forward Mike Knuble said Wednesday he will not be returning to the team next season.
The 39-year-old played three seasons for Washington, helping the team win two Stanley Cup playoff series, scoring 59 goals and acting as a veteran presence in a relatively young locker room. Knuble, an unrestricted free agent when NHL free agency opens July 1, learned in a phone conversation with general manager George McPhee last week that the Caps would not be offering him a contract for next year.
"Just being a veteran player, [general managers] level with you a little bit more," Knuble said. "It's not like I was blindsided. It's just a formality to actually get the phone call for him to tell you."
Knuble signed a two-year contract with Washington on July 1, 2009, and was given a one-year extension early in 2011. But as this season progressed, his ice time declined. Knuble was a healthy scratch for three separate stretches over the final two months of the regular season and did not play in the first three postseason games against Boston. But he returned for the Caps' final 11 playoff games, scored two goals and assisted on the overtime game-winner in Game 7 against the Bruins.
After 15 seasons, Knuble still believes he can play. It just won't be here. But he said he has only one regret.
"I wouldn't have come [to Washington in 2009] if I didn't think we had a chance [to win a Stanley Cup]," Knuble said. "I was in a position when I left Philadelphia to try and find a contender, and I was sort of controlling where I could go. ... I liked how the team was set up and what the future held. For whatever reason it didn't work out, but I leave being a little bit upset about it -- that we didn't win."