More Knuble From Cutting Room Floor

Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel

This is the last of the snippets from my 20-minute conversation with Caps right wing Mike Knuble last week as he approached the milestone of his 1,000th game in the NHL. Twenty-five years ago, there were no 39-year-olds in the NHL. Flyers goaltender Chico Resch was the oldest player in the league at age 38, and Buffalo's Gilbert Perreault was the oldest skater in the league at 36. Including goaltenders, there were just 10 players in the entire circuit aged 35 or older. Washington has four players aged 35 or older this season, and a total of 68 players (56 skaters and a dozen goaltenders) aged 35 or older have played in the NHL in 2011-12. I asked Knuble to reflect a bit on why we're seeing so many more players play so much longer in today's NHL. “Part of it probably has to do with the money that’s involved in your career these days. It’s a very, very lucrative business and it’s a great business to be in if you’re a player. People don’t want to talk about that, but the longer you keep yourself in shape and play well, you can have a great life and go places. I know people don’t want to talk about money in pro sports but, the longer you stay in the better off you’re going to be. You can go see the world. "I’ve played all over the world and in Olympic games and all that stuff later on in my career. I probably was lucky I didn’t play a ton when I was younger. It helped me out later on in life and when you’re old enough and smart enough to appreciate it all. When you’re young, you just think it’s going to last forever and you’ll play forever. When you’re older, you just think how fortunate you are. "I hope you set a bar. I hope you play with guys and you set a bar for them. I hope they see you and say, ‘I’ll be doing that. I’ll be that guy. I’ll be the oldest guy.’ Every guy should have that goal to be the oldest guy on their team. It was a factor for me. As I saw guys getting to a thousand [games], and I’d be like, ‘Will I ever hit a thousand? That’d be pretty sweet.’ “Nobody wants to talk about salary. There is so much money on the line now if you take care of yourself. Your window is so limited. That window is going to close. A good analogy is your career is a wet towel. And you wring that towel. And you wring it, wring it, wring it until that thing is dry. And then you can put the towel away. And you’re like, ‘I wrung that thing dry.’” Finally, I asked Knuble about the lifespan of a pro athlete and the tendency for your mental peak to come after your physical peak. So many talented players don't grasp the mental side of the game -- and the need to take care of your physical gifts -- until it's too late. Knuble seems to be a guy who was wise enough at a young age to absorb that which was being passed down to him from some of the game's most elite veteran players at the time. “People can talk and tell it to you until you’re blue in the face, but until you digest it and until you’re mature enough to get it and see the big picture … some guys always finish [practicing] first. Five years later, they’re like, ‘He was right.’ By then, maybe it’s too late. You try and pass it down but you don’t want to be preachy. You’re not going to sit there and tell stories. It’s just the way you carry yourself, what you say and what you do day-to-day. It’s how you treat yourself every day and how you treat people.”

next up:

Others On Knuble

January 14, 2013

Some observations from some others on Mike Knuble, culled from the last month or so: Ex-Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, from the day after a would-be Knuble goal against Winnipeg was called back because of contact in the crease from Matt Hendricks: “He’s a real leader. It’s tough. I really was hoping

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