(Photo via D.C. Sports Bog)
During the Capitals' eight-game losing streak, some fans and media types raised questions about the leadership in the Washington dressing room and organization. In the second episode of HBO's "24/7" part of the team's leadership was on significant display when producers included the clip of Mike Knuble's speech in the visiting locker room at TD Garden in Boston between the first and second period against the Bruins.
"Today, it's 3-0 and it will not [censored] be one of these laughers again," Knuble said. "It will not [censored] turn into a 5-0, 7-0 [censored] laugher. Where they're [censored] giggling getting out of their [censored] mess here. We are [censored] down 3-0 and we are going to come back and we're gonna [censored] win this thing. We're not [censored] going in the thank. That is enough right there. That's [censored] more than a year's worth. It's not going to happen again."
That segment that was included in the show, players said, was just part of what Knuble demanded of the Capitals during that intermission. Knuble, the oldest player on the roster at 38, is always talkative and makes his opinion known but when he picks and chooses the occasion to call his teammates to action the rest of the Capitals listen.
"Mike's always got a great presence in the locker room, and there have been a couple times -- meaningful times -- where he's stepped up in the middle of the locker room and challenged our team," Brooks Laich said. "We have a lot of respect for that guy. He's won more than any of us in here have won. He's a veteran guy who's been around a long time; when he speaks, everybody listens."
While the right wing's production hasn't been at the same pace he's accustomed to over the past few years in his career (15 points, 7 goals in 33 games), Knuble has had more success as of late with seven points in the past 11 games. But it's not necessarily his point production that garners respect from his teammates.
It's more the age and experience -- Knuble's 922 NHL regular-season games is far and away the most played by any member of the Capitals -- and the way he comes to the rink and does his job even if, say, his jaw is broken or he's struggling to score.
"I think that he's the most well-respected guy in the room. I feel like our team rallies around him," rookie defenseman John Carlson said. "He works just as hard as anyone, he's been playing with a broken jaw for a couple weeks now and he never really uses that or anything as an excuse and just keeps going forward. I really, really respect him."
Carlson said he looks up to Knuble and tries to learn as much as he can from him. It also turns out that Knuble's oldest son, Cameron, wears Carlson's number 74.
"He's been great to me," Carlson said. "I think as a whole, he's here and he's mentoring everyone. Even our best players aren't old yet. They still have a lot to learn too, from a guy like him that's been around forever and has that perspective."