The Washington Times - March 6, 2012, 07:11PM

Two fans of Mike Knuble, who call themselves “Knuble’s Knights” started a “Free Knuble” campaign during the veteran’s string of healthy scratches that culminated Tuesday night in a couple signs.

The signs Nathan, 27, of Burke, and Ryan, 26, of Alexandria brought to the game read “Free Knuble” and “Scratch Hunter.” They put them on the glass at the start of warm-ups and were soon told by Verizon Center security to take them down.

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“We put them up as the players were taking the ice,” Ryan and Nathan wrote in an email. “A few minutes into warmups a few security (I counted one yellow-jacket event staff and at least two actual security) guys came down and told us to take them down. They started to grab them to confiscate, but we negotiated with them and promised not to put them on the glass again. Our understanding was if we did they’d throw us out.

“They told us the players had asked us to take them down. No comment on whether that’s actually the case.”

A few Caps players did ask that the signs to be taken down. When approached privately on Wednesday a few players did not express any kind of issues with them. One player didn’t even notice. It’s unclear which player asked for the signs to be removed.

“Bottom line is we’re Caps fans and we love all the players and it was not our intent to offend the players or distract them,” they wrote.

On his blog Wednesday, owner Ted Leonsis explained the situation from his end:

“A couple of players saw a sign at ice level during warm-ups that they felt was disrespectful toward our coach. One of the players asked one of the bench personnel to see if he could get them to take it down. One of our arena employees thought he was being helpful, and asked the fans to take it down. By the accounts that have been shared with me, the fans were cordial and respectful. 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.”

Knuble was a healthy for the eighth time in 13 games. On Wednesday night, he wrote on Twitter: “Sir Nathan and Sir Ryan… Good effort boys.”