George McPhee and Mike Knuble pose with the silver stick. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
With the drop of a six-ounce disc of vulcanized rubber, 39-year-old right wing Mike Knuble became the 269th player in NHL history to play in 1,000 career games. While only a small percentage of players ever reach that milestone, an even tinier amount do it at age 39. Consider, Knuble is the second oldest player to ever reach 1,000 games, trailing only ex-Capital defenseman Grant Ledyard (who was 40).
Kanoobs, a veteran of 16 career NHL seasons, won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Detroit during the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons – his first two years in the league. However, it would take him four more years to finally have a breakout year and establish himself. In 2002-03, after Sergei Samsonov suffered a wrist injury, Knuble was asked to fill the void on the first line alongside Joe Thornton and Glen Murray with Boston. The gritty, two-way forward responded by finishing the year with 30 goals and 59 points. Knuble’s never looked back since.
Entering this season, Mike has recorded eight straight 20-goal seasons. Even more remarkable: Knuble’s scored 221 of his 271 career goals after his 30th birthday. That’s more goals than Steve Yzerman and Wayne Gretzky racketed up during the same playing age. This stat speaks volumes about Knuble’s relentless work-ethic, high hockey IQ, and professionalism. “You spend the first four or five years of your career trying to lock up a spot in the league and try to prove to everybody that you can play,” Knuble explained after Capitals practice Monday. “That’s enough of a battle. Once you get over that hump and you’ve proved you can play, then it’s a question of just being able to play that long and staying healthy.”
Naturally, the Capitals organization went all out to celebrate the assistant captain’s achievement tonight.