With the 2011 Winter Classic at Heinz Field between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins less than a day away, hockey fans everywhere prepare themselves to hear the consistent over-fluffing of stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, mixed with the forced discussion of what a fierce, and mostly contrived, rivalry the two teams possess with one another.
But as the Pittsburgh Post Gazette found out, despite what the media and league try to strong-arm into the New Year’s Day game, the Penguins’ players know that their animosity with the Capitals takes a backseat to one a little more personal.
“I think Philly will always be No. 1,” said Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik. “But just from the time I’ve been here, I would say probably Washington and Detroit (are next in line).”
Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo’s Puck Daddy, managed a Q&A sit down with former Flyer and new Washington Capital Mike Knuble. And although Mike didn’t discuss his time in Philly much, he still hit on what reaction he hopes to get upon his return to the Wachovia Center on Oct. 6.
“I don’t know,” Knuble said, when asked if he would be booed. “Maybe there’d be a smattering of boos. I hope not. I think I gave Philly a few good years.”
Knuble was the consummate professional in his four years in Philly. He wasn’t the fastest skater, nor did he have the best hands, but he brought it every night, played through injuries and was consistent. There is no doubt the 37-year old played the game the way it was meant to be played. And for that, there is nothing but respect from Flyers’ fans.
Mike left the flyers with no ill-will. He gave General Manager Paul Holmgren every chance to match any offer received from other clubs. But with the Flyers stuck in limited cap space hell, it made it impossible to match Washington’s offer of two ears, $2.8 million per.
Philly fans may not have the best reputation when it comes to treating opposing players with respect. But Flyers’ fans especially respect the game and the people who play it right. Because of that, not only will Knuble not be booed upon his return, but will may very well receive a nice ovation.
That is until he scores.
Philadelphia Inquirer writer Sam Carchidi wrote a piece designing the projected Flyers’ line combinations for the 2009-10 season. He put Ian Laperriere on the second line wing and Mike Richards centering the third line with Arron Asham and Daniel Carcillo. Being moved by the article, I decided to take it upon myself to put together the groupings to start the season.
Hockey writer Andy Strickland reports that former Flyer Mike Knuble has signed a two year, $5.6 million contract with the Washington Capitals. The Flyers refused to give Knuble the extra year and anything over $2 million, due to cap restraints. Knuble felt that he had earned a multi-year deal, despite turning 37 on July 4.
Look for General Manager Paul Holmgren to try and find another big winger through free agency. Ruslan Fedotenko has been a rumored name, however he may be looking for similar money as Knuble.
According to multiple sources, including Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Penguins are ready to pursue former Flyers’ forward Mike Knuble “Somewhat aggressively.”
Many believed that after signing Bill Guerin to a one-year, $2 million contact, that the Western Pennsylvania club filled its quota for a big, front of the net-type guy. However, with Ruslan Fedotenko likely hitting the bricks, the Pens want a second big body in a top-six role. The Penguins have roughly $4-5 million to spend and have yet to retain prized defenseman Rob Scuderi. Knuble is looking for a deal upwards of 2-3 years, for at least $2 million a season, likely more. Knuble made $2.8 million last season and commented to the media that the Flyers wanted him to take a “significant” pay cut and be paid via performance conditions. The Flyers were also only offering a one-year deal.
Keep in mind that Knuble is only a Plan-B if Fedotenko decides to test the market. He may also be just a bargaining chip to Fedotenko’s agent, letting the Fedotenko camp know they have options to lower their price.
Knuble will turn 37 on July 4. He scored 27 goals and 20 assists in 82 games with the Flyers last season.
With the free agent deadline just a day away, General Manager Paul Holmgren and the Flyers aren’t expected to be very active. However, with a couple players set to his the unrestricted free agent market, the team still has some loose-ends to sew up.
Just in time for an opportunity to deal Montreal a series death blow, the Philadelphia Flyers will get back one of their more productive post-season forwards as Mike Knuble returns to the lineup for game four against the Canadians.
After going down with a minor hamstring tear in game five against the Washington Capitals, Knuble will return in full capacity and hopefully kick start what has become a frantic power play in his absence.