Mike Knuble’s locker remained empty as the rest of the Washington Capitals’ players were already done with the morning skate. The respected veteran winger stayed on the ice with John Erskine and Michal Neuvirth, doing the extra work that comes with being a healthy scratch.
Knuble will be out of the lineup Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
“It’s always hard to do,” coach Dale Hunter said. “But you put [Jay] Beagle in, more speed, and Mike hasn’t scored in a while and we figured that we’d get him up top and watch the game.”
Knuble hasn’t scored in 27 games, dating to a goal Dec. 5 at the Florida Panthers.
Approached by reporters, the usually chatty and witty 39-year-old offered up a polite, “No thanks.”
Teammates reacted with surprise, not knowing the lineup, but two Caps players cited Knuble being a veteran as the reason why he’ll be able to handle this decision well.
“I’ve been through it, and if you’ve played hockey you’ve been through it,” Hunter said. “You don’t like it, and that’s the way you want the guy to react. You can’t say, ‘Oh, it’s fine.’ He doesn’t like it, but it’s part of hockey.”