The Flyers scored both of their goals in Thursday’s first win of the season thanks to the chaos they created around the New York Rangers’ net and the pressure they placed on goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
In veteran Mike Knuble, whom they will sign Friday (see story), the Flyers add a veteran known to be one of the most dangerous players in the league when camped out in front of an opponent’s goaltender.
But in addition to that, some of the younger players in their locker room will also gain a role model.
“He’s played a long time in this league,” Wayne Simmonds said. “He’s a great player, and he’s a great net-front presence, actually, and I think I can learn some things from him. I think he’s going to bring veteran leadership.”
With Scott Hartnell out at least a month and Danny Briere working his way back from a wrist injury (see story), the Flyers’ core group of forwards is very young. Yes, there are voices of leadership within the room as it currently stands, but not the kind that Knuble, 40, is known to bring.
Knuble has been in the NHL since 1996, spending time with the Flyers, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings and Rangers. He will not only help fill the void on the ice left vacant by Hartnell but will bring the traveled veteran presence the Flyers have been missing since Jaromir Jagr departed for Dallas last summer.
“He’s a big, strong forward,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s a quality person in the locker room, he brings a lot of experience. I think that can be really helpful. Our forwards, our group of forwards, are young, maybe the youngest. To have a guy like that, with his experience and leadership, I think is important.
“He’s a big, strong player and he’s played a lot of games, and I feel like that can only help us.”
Knuble has slowed down since he last played with the Flyers, from 2005-2009, but he has proven in the past he can put the puck in the net. He averaged 28 goals and 55 points while in Philadelphia, and had 24 markers with the Capitals just two seasons ago.
“I know he’s a good veteran,” Jakub Voracek said. “He’s a solid front-of-the-net guy. He knows how to win, so he’s obviously a great player. He’s been around for a while, so it’s good to have him.”
Knuble was released from a tryout with the Red Wings earlier this week, after playing just one game for their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, on Wednesday. He registered an assist.
He’s not going to replace Hartnell in the sense that he’s going to become the Flyers’ leading goal-scorer like Hartnell was last season, and he probably won’t be playing alongside Claude Giroux on the team’s top line.
After all, as Max Talbot said, Hartnell is “tough to replace.”
But Knuble, like Hartnell, has been a fan favorite for almost all of his career. And though he isn’t the player he was a decade ago, he can still make an impact -- on the ice and off.
“He tips a lot of pucks and is a dangerous weapon in front of the net,” Talbot said. “We always need a guy like that.”