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Vets Knuble, Hamrlik still with Caps, hoping to play

Monday, 02.27.2012 / 5:00 PM / 2012 Trade Deadline

By Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

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Vets Knuble, Hamrlik still with Caps, hoping to play
The Capitals were neither buyers nor sellers on trade deadline day, so vets Roman Hamrlik and Mike Knuble will try to regain a place in the lineup.
ARLINGTON, Va. -- Shortly after signing with the Washington Capitals last July, Roman Hamrlik spoke of the chance to win a Stanley Cup for the first time in his 19-year NHL career. Nearly eight months later, Hamrlik's goals, and perhaps those of the team he plays for, have become far more modest.

With the Capitals standing pat at the NHL trade deadline Monday, Hamrlik is simply hopeful of a return to Dale Hunter's lineup.

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The 37-year-old defenseman has been a healthy scratch in three straight games and was thought to be on the trading block as the deadline approached.

Ditto for 39-year-old Mike Knuble, a healthy scratch in two straight games and in five of the past nine games overall.

In a somewhat surprising turn of events though, both Hamrlik and Knuble are still Capitals. Washington begins the week in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the eighth place Winnipeg Jets and three behind the Southeast Division-leading Florida Panthers.

"I know with the year that I've had" Knuble said this morning, "and [given] how things have gone of late and an expiring contract and that, I know it's a lot of the characteristics that become tradable at this time of year."

Both players expressed frustration in recent weeks over their lack of playing time with Knuble suggesting earlier this month that a change of scenery might be in his best interest.

 "If a player is not going to be used," Knuble said Feb. 14, "or in the near future you don't have plans, then that player probably wouldn't want to be there. That's how we are in our League -- you want to go somewhere where you're going to play and contribute to your team and if you can't do it in one place, then you've got to go."

Two days later general manager George McPhee said that he did not plan on moving the disgruntled veteran. Knuble has since played four games while sitting twice.

Following practice Monday morning, just hours ahead of the deadline, Knuble seemed to change his mindset.

"Well, yeah, I think every player likes that opportunity to play. That being said, you start something as a player, you're with this team for a couple years, you want to see it through."

Knuble is in his third year with the Capitals but the eight-time 20-goal scorer has been held to three goals and 12 points in 57 games this season. He is also a team-worst minus-16, having spent much of the year on Washington's fourth line.

Roman Hamrlik
Defense - WSH
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 10
SOG: 49 | +/-: 1
"You're going to be a pro and know that it'll come back around again," Knuble said this morning of the possibility of staying with the Caps. "You have a chance... you can't dwell on the past. You've got to try and help this team in the future and you've seen guys not do anything all year and have a good playoff… If you can chip in on team success; it will trump any misery you went through as an individual during the year."

Hamrlik may have been more difficult to move given another year at $3.5 million remaining on his contract.

In 55 games this season, the first overall pick from the 1992 entry draft has two goals and 10 points. Hamrlik also leads the Capitals with 119 blocked shots.

Hunter suggested last week that Hamrlik had been on the ice for too many scoring chances against and accused the blueliner of taking untimely penalties.

"You should ask him about the penalties," Hamrlik said at the time. "When he played I think he make lots of penalties so he should know better. This is the game. Guys go on emotion time. I know I take bad penalty, but if it's that reason I didn't play that's his decision.

"It's not fun time, especially when you're older. You want to enjoy and have fun. It's a difficult time to play hockey when you know when you go to the game and you make mistake you're not going to play. It's not easy. It's really difficult on your body and your mind."

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