Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee doesn't mind Mike Knuble showing some frustration about not being in the lineup. That the 39-year-old alternate captain pointed out, "You want to go somewhere where you're going to play and you're going to contribute to the team," is a sign of his competitive nature as much as anything else.
But McPhee said Thursday he doesn't have any plans to send Knuble somewhere else.
"He's a great pro, a great guy. We have no interest in trading him," McPhee said. "He hasn't asked for that. We haven't talked to him about it."
Knuble has not and is not likely to formally request a trade. His comments earlier in the week made it seem like he wanted to get out if he wasn't playing.
"If it's not irritating you and you're not thinking about your options, then you might as well stop playing then," he said.
Knuble has been a healthy scratch for three straight games. The Caps are 0-2-1 in that time, and teammates did say that the right wing adds something despite not having scored a goal since Dec. 5.
"It's a guy that's one of the key leaders on our team and good in the dressing room and a leader on the ice," defenseman Jeff Schultz said. "We know that we look to him, too, for guidance, and we use his leadership out on the ice."
Coach Dale Hunter, rarely one to give away his lineup choices until the last possible moment, called it a "game-time decision" on Knuble playing Friday night at the Florida Panthers.
But McPhee expects Knuble to be back.
"That's the plan," he said.
The GM made it clear that a three-game stint in the press box wasn't the end of the world for Knuble, who has just three goals, eight assists and a minus-14 rating this season.
"I don't expect him to be happy. But sometimes the best thing you can do for a player is sit him down for a couple games," McPhee said. "If things aren't going right, it's amazing how you can take a player out and put him upstairs and let him watch from where all of you watch and it looks easy from up there
"And I think it's healthy for players to sit down and get a fresh perspective. And they're almost always better when they come back."
Another byproduct is a return to the old A-word that was a key piece to this Caps season under coach Bruce Boudreau.
"One of the strengths that we like about Dale in terms of his coaching is he holds people accountable," McPhee said. "If it's not working out for you, you're not playing well we'll play somebody else."
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