Photo credit: Paul Bereswill
[Editor’s note: We asked Nathan and Ryan of Knuble’s Knights to bid a fond farewell to Mike Knuble as he departs the Washington Capitals. Here’s what they gave us.]
Sir Michael of the House Knuble, First of Your Name, Man of 1000 Games, Crasher of Nets, Breacher of Creases, Abuser of Goalies and Grandpa of Slippers:
When the RMNB guys invited us to write a farewell post, they suggested that we provide some highlights of your time in D.C., defend your performance this year, or re-tell some stories about the Knights’ antics. To be honest, the stories have already been told, and there are people much more qualified who will write the reviews and summaries and analyses. As fans, all we’re really qualified to do is say Thank You.
Thank you for the three great years you gave Caps fans. Thank you for your grit, your leadership, and your passion for the game. Thank you for your funny quotes, your positive attitude, your goofy faces, and your general badassery.
On a more personal note, thank you for being so cool to two guys dressed in knight costumes cheering your name. When we decided three years ago to go crazy for a player that other people don’t go crazy for, we didn’t know how it would be received. As ridiculous as it was, you took it in stride. You were gracious toward us and as time went on (and things got progressively sillier), we like to think you even started playing along a little bit. Thanks to your brother Steve and wife Megan, who were both exceedingly kind to us.
It was truly an honor for us to do our own small part to cheer for you through thick and thin, to make sure other fans recognized your value to our team, and to, on one occasion, risk physical harm to bring attention to your plight. (About that: Sorry if the whole “Free Knuble” / “Scratch Hunter” thing caused you grief.)
We can’t speak for the Caps organization or for players on the team, but if you ask us, the reaction to the news that you’re leaving speaks volumes to what you’ve meant to Caps fans these last three years. We don’t think there are many role players whose departures, after just a few years on a team, caused so much anguish among the fans. You have earned respect and admiration from guys who knew you and fans who maybe never e
As you said in the exit interviews, this separation wasn’t a surprise. That doesn’t make it any easier. We’re just glad it didn’t end in March, with healthy scratches, frustration among the fans (and, apparently, others affiliated with the team), and confusion for you. At least we had that Bruins series. And a lot of other great memories that at least two of your fans will fondly remember for a very long time to come.
Like when we showed up at “Caps on the Fly” in 2009 to introduce ourselves.
Photo credit: Clydeorama
Or when you spent time chatting with us at practice, and you actually thanked us for our support.
Or when we all celebrated your 1000th game, or the first shootout goal of your career, or any of the other 58 goals you scored for the Caps, with a rousing KNUUUUUUUUUBLE yell.
Maybe the longest distance goal of 22’s career. (GIF by welshhockeyfan.tumblr.com)
And as things got awkward with your situation on the roster, thank you for being a class act – a term many have used in recent days to describe you. In a post-announcement interview, you talked with CSN’s Chuck Gormley about being a role model. “Even on your worst day, there’s always a kid who wants an autograph or that moment in time to shake your hand,” you explained. “You can’t ever forget that. Even on your worst day you still want to make sure you’re extremely nice to that kid because he’ll remember that. You hope they remember you in a good way.”
We will certainly remember you in a good way, Mike. We’d venture to guess the vast majority of Caps fans of all ages will remember you that way as well – yes, in part for your contributions on the ice, but also because of the man you strove to be off it. The Washington Capitals were lucky to have you. Even if the organization forgot it, the fans didn’t. You’ll be missed.
But all good things must come to an end, and we must part ways. We’ll still cheer on our Caps, and you’ll move on to the next stage of your career. We wish you the best and will root for you wherever you end up, whether it’s on the ice or off. (Unless it’s the Pens.) If it is on the ice, we hope you find a team that recognizes the value you add– not only in the stats, but also in the intangibles– and a coach who understands the right ways to use your skills. Their fans will be lucky to have you.
But seriously, please not the Pens.