By far the most common question we get (even before “are you single?”*) is “Why?” Here’s a little explanation.
There are a lot of varied opinions on folks like Capstronaut, Batman Guy, Mystic Guy, Elmo, whoever else dresses up for Caps games. We get lumped in with them because we also wear costumes to Caps games and other events (like the Convention). We’ve never heard any negative feedback directly about Knuble’s Knights, but we’re sure it’s out there and, to be honest, we understand. But there’s a reason behind the silliness and I’d like a chance to explain before you judge.
To get this out of the way, we readily acknowledge that we chose “knights” because it sounds funny when you pronounce the “k” and “n” as you do in “Knuble.” The alliteration is fun, and part of the humor we see in it is that it’s a bit of a non-sequitur. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. To some folks, this makes us like the other attention-seekers at VC. Fair. But how we came to choose Knuble is a bit different.
We decided before investing in regular game attendance in the ‘09-‘10 season that we wanted to have some fun with it. When it comes to general cheering, guys like Goat and Horn Guy have that market pretty much cornered. To avoid being “those guys who try to do Goat’s or Horn Guy’s job,” we wanted to focus on someone specific.
When people think about the Caps, they automatically think about Ovi. He’s a superstar, and the face of the franchise. Sporting an Ovi jersey or making a sign about Ovi makes perfect sense – from a fan’s perspective he is the most electrifying guy out there. (And from a purely economic sense, you know a #8 sweater won’t end up being a waste of money because Ovi isn’t going anywhere.) It’s clear on any game day at VC that the vast majority of jerseys represent a small number of players – 8, 52, 19, 28.
It’s not that there’s an inherent problem with this. Fans are naturally going to gravitate toward the “star” players. But we wanted to buck the system by finding who deserved the kind of attention guys like Ovi and Green and Backstrom get, but who didn’t get it. Who better than Mike Knuble?
The Caps acquired Knuble before the ‘09 season – he was a fresh face to the franchise, but a veteran of the league. He brought leadership skills, not to mention some experience with Lord Stanley and The Great One. He had a reputation for being the kind of player who is an ultimate workhorse without any of the attention-grabbing flashiness that makes players fan favorites. Everyone wants a Mike Knuble on their team, but nobody is particularly passionate about him when he’s playing next to an Alex Ovechkin.
We don’t know of any Knuble superfans from his previous 13 NHL seasons. It’s possible they existed, but we haven’t heard anything about them. For the most part, he’d just been a grinder, a guy who went to his office and got stuff done in front of the net, and didn’t seek a whole lot of glory along the way.
To be honest I think it weirded him out at first. What were these two guys doing calling themselves Knuble’s Knights? We met him just a couple months after we started going to games as the Knights, at an event in December 2009 (see above). He was friendly and courteous, signing our gear and taking a photo (he even knew where we sat in the arena), but he seemed a little unsure of what to make of us. Were we going to follow him home or start sending weird scented fan mail? Was he in some sort of danger?
Over time, (as he realized we’re crazy but not crazy-crazy) it seems he’s become more comfortable with it. I gather he still doesn’t really “get it,” but has come to appreciate the effort and find what we do at the very least amusing and flattering.
Is there a “look at me!” element to it? Of course. Knowing that a guy like Knuble appreciates us cheering for him makes us feel good too. (We are fans, after all. Who doesn’t get star-struck when a famous actor or athlete notices them?) We love that when we met his brother, Steve, at the 2010 Caps Convention (see below) he told us “the whole family knows about you” … or that at a practice we attended, Knuble nodded to us along the boards, then skated over to tell Green, “my guys are here today.” No one will tell you that winning “Fan of the Game” or getting a shout-out from Joe Beninati isn’t super cool. It is. Would we turn down an invitation to the owner’s box? No, and neither would you, but that’s not why we do it.
If dressing up like idiots, RicFlair-woooo-ing for Knuble every time he’s on the Jumbotron or going insane when he scores an OTGWG means that maybe, just maybe other fans cheer a little louder for the grinders, or appreciate a player like Knuble a bit more, then we’ve accomplished our goal.
In the end, every fan is free to think what they want about us or any of the other “characters” at Caps games. We don’t speak for or defend them. (Some of them confuse and annoy us just as much as they do you.) As far as “Knuble’s Knights” goes, we hope you get it, or at least that you can laugh at the silliness.
*No one has ever asked us this.