Mike Knuble #9 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center on April 11, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(April 10, 2013 - Source: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Knuble knows that his playing career might be over


Forward Mike Knuble doesn’t regret signing a one-year deal to play with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2013, but it kept him away from his home and family in East Grand Rapids, Michigan. He turned 41 on July 4 and at this point, his primary goal as an unrestricted free agent is to stay close to home.

“I never want to move away to the east coast,” he told MLive. “I don’t mind some travel, some commute. But realistically, the options are Detroit and Chicago.”

That being said, he knows that the Red Wings and Blackhawks “can barely fit in the guys they have,” so he’s not holding his breath waiting for something to be worked out. In other words, he realizes that his playing career might be over, and it sounds like he’s okay with that.

“I got a taste of what life would be like without hockey – coaching my kids and being around and being at home and I really enjoyed that,” he said, referring to what he did during the lockout.

“So, to me, whether you play or not, things can change on a dime. Would I still like to play? Sure, but it has to be the right thing for me and my family.”

Assuming he isn’t able to work out an NHL deal this summer, he’s got a potential alternative in mind. He’s reached out to the coach of the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins, Jeff Blashill, about the possibility of helping the team.

“For me I just want to get through the summer and let everything get going and then see where we’re at, see where they’re at with their roster and see if it is even an option,” Knuble said.

“I’d love to help out, but we’ll see. I have 17 years of pro knowledge in my head, and I’d love to pass it on to guys trying to find their way. So, you never know.”

The Griffins are the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings, so Knuble might end up helping them out even if Detroit isn’t looking to sign him as a player.

If Knuble retires, he’ll be ending a career that lasted 1,068 games with Detroit, the New York Rangers, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington. He has 278 goals and 548 points.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.

McDavid will center Hall and Slepyshev

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ST. LOUIS (AP) Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid said he didn’t have any trouble falling asleep on the eve of his professional debut.

But when he woke up on Thursday he said it finally hit him.

“In the days leading up I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,” McDavid said. “Kind of when I woke up this morning, I guess that’s kind of when it hit me that I’ll be playing in my first NHL game. I think that’s when I first realized.”

When the Oilers play at the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night, all eyes will be on the 18-year-old McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft and the most hyped player to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby of the Penguins made his debut a decade ago.

Speaking in front of a crowd of reporters on Thursday following his team’s morning skate, the soft-spoken rookie admitted to having some butterflies but said he felt pretty good and was excited to get going.

“It’s just special,” McDavid said of his NHL debut. “I’m living out my dream, so there’s nothing better than that. I’m just really looking forward to tonight.”

McDavid will be centering the Oilers’ second line against the Blues with Taylor Hall on the left wing and Anton Slepyshev on the right. Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft, while Slepyshev will also be making his NHL debut on Thursday night.

“We all see what he can do in practice and the games,” Hall said of McDavid. “It’s important to remember he’s 18. I’m 23 and I still have bad games. Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world and still has bad games. There’s going to be some trials and some errors, but I think that he’s in a position to succeed and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow.”

Oilers coach Todd McLellan, hired in May after spending seven seasons with the San Jose Sharks, has already gotten accustomed to receiving questions about McDavid.

The first few questions McLellan was asked on Thursday were about the NHL’s most popular newcomer.

“What I’ve found with him is he’s working really hard to just be himself and fit in,” the coach said. “He doesn’t want to be special, he doesn’t want to be treated any differently but he obviously is. He’s trying to adapt to that and he’s doing a very good job of it personally and collectively I think our team has done a good job around him.”

McLellan said there are three levels of pressure surrounding him.

The first is McDavid’s individual expectations, which he is sure are extremely high. The second comes from the rookie’s teammates, coaching staff, organization and city of Edmonton.

“But where it really changes is the national, international and world-wide eyes being on him,” McLellan said. “How does that compare to some of the other players I’ve been around? I haven’t been around an 18-year-old who has had to deal with that. It’s new to all of us.

“I did spend some time talking to Sid (Sidney Crosby) about his experience and even since then the world’s really changed as far as media and social media and that type of stuff. This is a new adventure for everybody involved. I know Connor has the tools to handle the pressure and we’ll do everything we can to help him.”