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Mike Knuble on the regular season

Remember when the Caps lost in the first round of the playoffs and everyone freaked out started asking "How in the world is any fan in their right mind going to get excited about the regular season next fall? I mean, even if they paint the steps in Verizon Center red?"

Well, the Caps streamed their home preseason opener on their Web site Tuesday night, and surpassed 20,000 online viewers. That's for the preseason. Bear in mind that in mid-May, when the Nats were playing .500 baseball in the actual regular season, their broadcasts on MASN and MASN2 were averaging about 20,000 households in this market. (Though, of course, the Caps Web site may have been attracting Bruins fans as well on Tuesday.)

(The Caps also announced attendance of better than 17,000, though that's tickets sold and shouldn't imply that 17,000 folks were in Verizon Center.)

Anyhow, I asked one of the dressing room voices of wisdom -- veteran Mike Knuble -- this very question, about how to care about the regular season when making the playoffs seems like a formality, playoff seeding seems not to matter, the postseason is still six months away and you've already seen the red steps.

"It's your job," Knuble said. "It's what you're supposed to do. You're a hockey player, and you go out and play the games. That's their job to get excited when they want to get excited, but the reality is, we play a game, and our fans will be there regardless. I know, a lot of them want to wait, they want to see, but in the meantime we're gonna give them a lot of good nights. We'll give them a lot of fun nights, and they'll leave the arena happy a lot of nights."

So is it hard for the players to get excited for an early-October tilt with Atlanta? Is it a grind?

"It's not a grind," Knuble said. "It's just a hockey season. It's what I've been doing more than half of my life. It's what you do. As a player, it's a long way away, and the last thing you can do is look forward too far. I mean, you've got to deal with what's in front of you, and that's our season.

"And it's not gonna matter where we are in the standings. We'll still have a chance to be first in our division and be at the top of the conference, because we have the same group, and they're good players. But it's going to be a lot of talking until the spring, a lot of talking about the spring until we get to the spring."

A few stalls away, Brooks Laich gave me his grumpy look. He said he's grumpy every day, now, and he had no patience for any questions about the regular season grind.

"We didn't have success last year, so there's things we have to work on, and you can't get to the playoffs and then work on those things," he said. "You have to use the regular season to identify how you're gonna play and how you're gonna have success in the playoffs. The regular season, for us, is very, very important. Obviously we want to get to the playoffs, but there's a lot of work to be done before that."

And will it be fun? Will there still be jolly moments of late December joy, in the stands and on the ice?

"I mean, you can't play this game unless you're having fun," Knuble said. "There's no way you show up and deal with all the stuff, do the training and the skating and even get the most out of yourself without having fun. So I'm coming every day."

Plus, there's a white stripe on the top of the netting, and vendors wandering around selling beer, and urinal cup holders, and red steps at Verizon Center.

("I don't think they go too well with these purple chairs," Mystics wing Monique Currie told the Examiner.

"I know they started to put red around the arena for basketball," the Wizards Josh Howard said this week. "It's gonna make you realize that red's back, I guess. I hope nobody mistakes us for the hockey team.")

(Photos from Reader R, Corey Masisak and Sky Kerstein.)

By Dan Steinberg  | September 29, 2010; 12:31 PM ET
Categories:  Caps  
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Next: Kolzig: "I'm a Cap through and through"


Personally, either Knuble or Laich should be our Captain and Ovi should stay with the A. I am sure it is that way in the locker room though.

Posted by: SuperZ3383 | September 29, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

...the Caps streamed their home preseason opener on their Web site Tuesday night, and surpassed 20,000 online viewers.

I hope somebody at Comcast is paying attention.

Posted by: tha_prophet | September 29, 2010 1:01 PM | Report abuse


I'd been saying during the vacancy of the C that I thought Laich was the right guy for the job, but yeah it's as much external as it is internal in a lot of ways. You're absolutely right though, you dont need the C to be a leader, which Laich obviously is.

Posted by: zeile_d | September 29, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

That 17,000 attendance figure isn't particularly valuable. If you're a season ticket holder you get tickets to the home preseason games free. Having said that, the place was well over half-full for a Tuesday night preseason game, which was still rather impressive.

Posted by: TheFingerman | September 29, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Screw the red stairs, are those new television screens up near the 400 level (last pic)? It's like a mini-Jerry World.

Posted by: RedskinsWiz23 | September 29, 2010 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I would imagine those screens are the ones visible from the press area.

Speaking of visible, how about that special new support bar for the end nets? Ugh, and why?

Posted by: Goat_74 | September 29, 2010 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Aside from drawing attention to the safety net, what purpose does the white stripe serve?

Posted by: MillBurray | September 29, 2010 2:37 PM | Report abuse

@ TheFingerman: The preseason tickets are not free for STHs. Still, a lot of STHs skip the meaningless preseason tilts. Hopefully, they do not feel the same way about the meaningless regular season tilts.

Fortunately, the white stripe is not in my line of sight, but it is still unnecessary.

Kudos to Ted for all of the changes, but I still would not allow my dog, let alone kids, to eat the food in Verizon Center.

Posted by: HeShootsHeScores | September 29, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Can we talk more about how horrible the red paint looks with those purple seats? It really is awful.

Posted by: empsg59 | September 29, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

@HeShootsHeScores I guess in theory, the price of the preaseason game tickets is somehow folded into the regular season tickets. But I have season tickets and I believe I was only charged for 41 games @ whatever the price is per game. Last year, when I got season tickets for the first time, I was surprised to find the preseason tickets in with the season tickets, since there was nothing that said they were part of the package. I'm not complaining about it, I like it--I just don't think season ticket holders are actually "paying" for the tickets.

By the way, the concession stands at Verizon last night--or at least the one on the 400 level near my seat--were in preseason form last night. Out of napkins and it took five minutes waiting at the counter before my chicken tenders were ready. I was having flashbacks to Nats games at RFK.

Posted by: TheFingerman | September 29, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

@TheFingerman: if you check what you paid for season tickets, you'll find that you paid 42.5 times the listed per-game price for your seat; that's 41 regular season games at full price, plus 3 preseason games at half price. -JW

Posted by: JWJr | September 29, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

"Can we talk more about how horrible the red paint looks with those purple seats? It really is awful."

I think the point is that if they put butts in the seats, the seat color won't matter! It reminds me of an old joke:

Three men own a movie theatre suffering from declining attendance. The first owner says, "Our theatre is a bit shabby. Let's raise the ticket price by 25 cents and cover the seats with velour."

The second owner says, "Let's raise the ticket price by a dollar and cover the seats with leather.

The third owner says, "Let's lower the ticket price by a dollar and cover the seats with arses."

(Of course, sports ticket prices will never decline.....)

Goat mentions the new white bar for the netting. I noted last night that when he showed up on camera, the white bar cut right across his face (the camera trained on him was one of the ones over at 215).

Posted by: 1995hoo | September 29, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

@JW--Thanks, I see that now. I had forgotten that I had some credits applied to my account because I sold some tickets last season on the TicketExchange site. Interesting that they never really tell you that--you either have to do the math or look online at the invoice which has the game-by-game charges. At least they're half-price.

Posted by: TheFingerman | September 29, 2010 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I hope nobody mistakes us for the hockey team.

You'd have to start winning some games before that would ever happen, Josh. I don't think you're in any danger there.

Posted by: kittypawz | September 30, 2010 8:17 AM | Report abuse

Why does everyone get so caught up about what type of sports town the city is? It's such a stupid conversation because 1)Does it really matter? 2)The skins will always be #1.

The Caps are our best shot at a championship and the fan base is growing.. This is great for the city! You don't have to dog another sport....

Posted by: Hondo5 | September 30, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

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