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Posted at 01:03 PM ET, 03/07/2012

Capitals tell fans to take down ‘Free Knuble,’ ‘Scratch Hunter’ signs (updated)

Update, Wednesday, 4:30 p.m.: Owner Ted Leonsis, who was not in attendance at Tuesday’s game, offered an explanation on his blog about why the fans were told to remove their signs.

Leonsis reiterated what a team spokesman told reporters following Washington’s loss to Carolina, saying that “a couple of players saw a sign at ice level during warm-ups that they felt was disrespectful toward our coach.”

They then asked to have the sign taken down and building personnel proceeded to carry out the request. Leonsis went on to say that the sign itself didn’t violate any of the policies set at Verizon Center. An excerpt follows.

In actuality, the sign did not violate any of our policies (e.g., profanity, political, commercialism or obstruction) and should have been permitted. So we have reconnected internally with a variety of folks involved to clarify our position. We actually have the right to refuse all signs, but in the past we have permitted them, so long as they didn’t conflict with the policies we established.

You can check out the full post here.

Update, Wednesday, 1 p.m.: I spoke with a few players after practice today — though not all of them, because some had already left the dressing room — and none seemed overly concerned about the signs two fans brought to Verizon Center last night.

While two players said they didn’t even notice the signs that read “Free Knuble” and “Scratch Hunter” along the glass during warmup, three others said they saw the signs and laughed off the messages.

The players said that they don’t get too worked up because they know that fans are going to express their opinions however they wish. None of the players I spoke with were aware that a request was made to take them down.

A team spokesman last night said three players requested that the fans take the signs down. The fans, who call themselves Knuble’s Knights in support of veteran winger Mike Knuble, complied when approached by building personnel. On Twitter the fans (@KnublesKnights) said they had no complaints about the security and it wasn’t their “intent to offend or distract any of the players. Happy to oblige their request to take down our awesome signs.”

Update, Tuesday, 10:45 p.m.:According to a Capitals spokesman, three players saw the signs during warmups and asked that they be taken down. They were primarily concerned with the sign that read “Scratch Hunter,” the spokesman said.

Original post: During warmups Tuesday night ahead of the Capitals’ game against Carolina, a few fans opted to voice their unhappiness with Mike Knuble serving as a healthy scratch.

The contest against the Hurricanes marks the eighth time in the past 13 contests that the veteran winger has sat out, and two of his most ardent supporters, who call themselves Knuble’s Knights, brought signs to Verizon Center. One read “Free Knuble”. The other was a reference to Coach Dale Hunter that read “Scratch Hunter”.

The signs were clearly visible along the glass for the start of warmups but the Knuble’s Knights — who go by Sir Ryan and Sir Nathan (their real first names) — were then approached by an event staff member, along with two security guards, the fans said.

They were told that the “players asked us to make you take the signs down” and if they didn’t comply the signs would be confiscated and destroyed. The fans complied and were able to keep the signs.


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