got a late start in hockey, learning a lot at the high school level and
then jumping right into the North American Hockey League. Knuble only
needed one year in the NAHL before moving on to the University of
Michigan, where he had an outstanding four years.
of reasons why he will always value what he learned there.
learn a lot more about the game he loves.
said Knuble. “It was an excellent step for me in my career because it
really got me involved in the game more.”
by several scouts and top college hockey schools looking at this big,
young forward with such size, speed and quickness that your head would
spin. But, Knuble says the talent level from high school up to the NAHL
Valicevic, so I learned a lot real fast,” he says. “And our coach, Paul
Pickard, worked us very hard too.”
conditioning program, (which included running laps and intense skating)
that he lost weight before he arrived on the scene at U-M.
liking to Knuble. Wolverines assistant coach Billy Powers says it was
immediately obvious that Knuble was a goal scorer who could complement
some other notable scorers – namely Brendan Morrison and Brian Wiseman –
“He took a little longer to develop, but he had a great snap shot and
made things happen around the net.”
that improved his opportunities on the team and made him a dominant
Powers. “Our competitiveness really helped him. He’s a classic story
of where the big size/big body kid used his size and gifts that he had,
to his advantage.”
transformation from juniors to college began and all that he learned in
the NAHL flashed back before his eyes.
“My first game was at MSU and for a first game that was pretty tough.”
He says he was so nervous and intense that he even ran into one of his
became a dangerous playmaker that every opponent had to keep their eyes
intense training, that really propelled Knuble to greatness.
helped him dramatically in making that transition from high school to
the junior level.”
the NAHL and played college hockey owe it all to the NAHL’s coaching and
can go up and down the list of players, particularly here at Michigan,
guys like Mike or Dale Rominski come to mind. Some didn’t always go on
past the college level to be successful like Mike, but it still makes a
big impact on those players.”
Knuble moved on to the big time, where he started in the Detroit Red
Wings organization, playing for its top farm club at the time,
out of the NAHL and attending U-M, he then had to make a completely
different readjustment…life as a professional player.
business and you are in it for yourself,” says Knuble. “There’s a lot
more on the line. You’re a new guy again and you make 20 new friends.”
learning from mistakes. Although, it was not advisable to do that under
a coaching great such as U-M head coach Red Berenson, it was even worse
to do that under NHL coaching great and Red Wings head coach Scotty
if you mess up, the potential is much greater for someone to finish up
and you are in trouble,” says Knuble. “On this level, you have to be
and are expected to be responsible for your position.”
Stanley Cup champions.
those great Red Wings teams.
was an experience I can’t describe,” he says. “At the time, I really
took it for granted.”
necessarily been on some of the best teams. But, he’s had some good
experiences and played with some great ones, as in the Great One
up playing in the final season of Wayne Gretzky’s career and Number 99’s
teammate during his grand finale.
“To see him and then play with him was something else.”
has played for some coaching greats and played with some legends.