“No,” Knuble said when asked if he asked the team for a trade. “But that’s something that, you know, you have to face reality. You can handle it a number of ways: You can be content and just sit there and let things happen as they may, or you can force an issue. You have to kind of decide that. It’s two weeks before the trade deadline, and you know, if a player is not going to be used now or in the near future, if they don’t have plans, then, you know, that player probably wouldn’t want to be there.”
“That’s how we are in our league,” the 39-year-old continued. “You want to go somewhere where you’re going to play and contribute to the team. If you can’t do it one place, then you got to go.”
Two months after being toasted by the team for playing in his 1,000th NHL game, Knuble has been a healthy scratch the past three contests. In 53 games this season, he has three goals and a team-worst minus 14 rating, a precipitous decline for an alternate captain who began the season on Alex Ovechkin’s line.
Asked if getting dealt is a “conversation” he would like to have before the Capitals depart on a pivotal four-game road trip later this week, Knuble said: “I don’t know. I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. You just kind of got through this weekend. We had three games in [five] nights, you just [want to] get through it and see what happens there. Then, obviously, we all saw what happened, [and] it gets you thinking. It should. We’re all competitive, we want to play and we want to contribute. If it’s not irritating you and you’re not thinking about your options, then you might as well stop playing.”
Trade rumors have begun to swirl in recent days. One report suggested he could be shipped to the Sharks and be reunited with Joe Thornton. The trade deadline is 3 p.m. Feb. 27.
At least one of Knuble’s teammates sounded somewhat confused by the benching.
“I feel for him,” goalie Tomas Vokoun said. “It’s tough. Saying that, it’s not our decision. We, as a player, are here to play hockey and we are responsible for our play and what we do out there. It’s obviously, I think, he’s one of the leaders of this team and he’s not playing, it’s …I don’t know. I like his game and I think he’s still [a] player who can help us win. But like I said, that’s not my decision.”
Knuble was replaced in the lineup the past three games by minor league call-ups.
Coach Dale Hunter said he wants Knuble to show him he made a mistake by scratching him.
“He will [get back in] eventually … it’s always who plays the best and who doesn’t play well,” Hunter said. “We watch tape and bring new faces in.”
“He’s a leader, you know, a professional,” Hunter added. “We all go through it when we get older. I went through it. You’re trying to get more speed in the lineup but you’ve got to be professional about it and train hard out here so when you do get back in you’re ready to go. Show me that I made a mistake. That’s what I want.”
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