Knuble ready for chance in return to Flyers

Knuble ready for chance in return to Flyers
January 25, 2013, 8:00 pm
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One man’s misfortune becomes another’s benefit.

Former Flyer Mike Knuble agreed to a one-year contract Friday worth $750,000 as the foreseeable replacement for Scott Hartnell, who may miss as much as two months with a fractured bone in his left foot.

During his four previous years here, Knuble was a vital piece of the Flyers, averaging 28.5 goals and 55 points.

“It’s the first time I’ve double-dipped on a team and I got to come back around and play for an organization, a place where you feel very comfortable,” Knuble said.

“You know the staff, you know the people that you see at the rink every day. You know your way around, you know a few guys in the locker room still who were there from when you were there.

“It’s a great organization, and a place that I kind of had to leave because of salary cap things, and you didn’t really want to go and I said that at the time. It’s a great opportunity for me to come back and help out.”

A 16-year veteran, Knuble had two productive seasons in Washington, but didn’t get much playing time under Dale Hunter and tailed off dramatically in his third year in 2011-12.

Without a contract in a lockout year, he was with Grand Rapids during the lockout trying to work his way back when the Flyers called on Thursday after getting the full report on Hartnell’s injury.

“Life moves on for everybody,” Knuble said. “I stayed active this fall. I stayed playing with Grand Rapids Griffins in the American League and stayed practicing with them with hopes of something would happen.

“We were all obviously waiting to see what sort of season would develop out of all this, you know, was it going to be 50 games, 60 games and they settled on 48. Everybody’s adjusting this year. It’s kind of one of those years that everybody’s just making the best of what they could do this year.”

As a Flyer, Knuble was a staple on the power play, standing in front of the goalie, swatting pucks in and using his 6-foot-3 frame as an offensive force.

It's what the Flyers wanted James van Riemsdyk to become. It’s what Hartnell provided and what Wayne Simmonds is trying to learn, as well.

“I think I’m going to be ready for anything,” Knuble said. “I think I’m pretty realistic that a guy like me will be a spot filler, fill some holes at times. Come in and do what’s asked of you, play where you need to play … I think, really, you got to be ready to move around probably a lot and be ready for anything.”

The one element he brings that the Flyers sorely lack with the departure of Jaromir Jagr, is the ability to mentor younger players.

Knuble’s off-ice leadership in a dressing room loaded with young players -- some of whom are here by injury necessity -- could be pivotal if the Flyers are going to make the playoffs out of this 48-game scramble of a season.

He is one of the most intelligent players the organization has ever had and will provide a wise sounding board for 25-year-old captain, Claude Giroux.

“Well, yeah, I think that’s being a veteran guy,” Knuble said. “You want to talk to guys and be a good guy, you know, act like a veteran player as far as things you try to do or talk about on the ice.

“Sometimes it’s do as I say, not quite as I do sometimes. Hopefully, you know, you can be somebody that the staff can count on to do the right things on and off the ice and take care of yourself, and have fun with the guys and be a positive influence on their own … You kind of look at that being part of the role, too.”

He’ll join the club during this weekend's trip in Florida where the Flyers meet the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning.