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Morning Commute: Mike Knuble Emerges As Newest HBO 24/7 Hero

Leadership on a sports team is a tough thing to define. Lots of players are true professionals that are prepared, always on time and willing to do anything the coach says, but that's essentially leading by osmosis. Lots of players can stand up and berate their teammates during a tough stretch, but not everyone can do it well and get their teammates to respond. Finally, even if their teammates do respond, it may not result in a win, especially in a game like hockey when luck plays a big role.

So in the end, leadership becomes a "I know it when I see it" kind of thing that can't explicitly be defined. Which brings us to Mike Knuble. During yesterday's episode of "HBO 24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic," Knuble stood up and berated his teammates after the Caps fell behind 3-0 to the Boston BruinsHere's the transcript:

Today, it's 3-0 and it will not f****** be one of these laughers again. It will not f****** turn intoo a 5-0, 7-0 f****** laugher. Where they're f****** giggling getting out of their f******* mess here. We are f****** down 3-0 and we are going to come back and we're gonna f****** win this thing. We're not f****** going in the thank. That is enough right there. That's f****** more than a year's worth. It's not going to happen again.        

The speech worked, as the Caps made a furious rally to nearly win that game, and haven't lost since. But truth be told, the speech was a sign of leadership whether it worked or not. As the Capitals continued to struggle, the only voice that was calling them out for it prior to Knuble's rant was potty-mouthed Bruce Boudreau. The obvious question was this: who is the leader among the players, the voice that steps up and says, "This ends now."

As it turns out, it's Mike Knuble, whether the speech turned the team around or not.

Today's must-reads from around the SB Nation network:


Today on SB Nation D.C.: In case you missed it, here's our coverage of last night's HBO 24/7 show, also featuring Matt Hendricks' faceMike Green's vespaGeorge McPhee's media criticism and the team's Jersey Shore-style victory music. Also, Jake Whitacre writes that while D.C. fans hate LeBron James, he actually played a major role in allowing the team to begin the rebuilding process.