The term warrior shouldn’t be thrown around. Warriors don’t need your love. They earn your respect. Warriors don’t define talent. They defy pain.
In fact, with Matt Greene’s absence at the beginning of the season, the need for a Willie Mitchell becomes more pressing. Therein however lies the problem. Willie Mitchell of the present may not be Willie Mitchell of the warrior clan. You see, last season, he only played a total of 48 games. Mitchell suffered a concussion in January when he was run into the end boards by Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin in a Jan. 16 game. Here is a link to the video since the damn embed feature currently isn’t working – Malkin’s hit on Willie Mitchell.
It was a dirty hit. Of course, Malkin, akin to Pronger and a few others, has his own addendum to the NHL Rule Book. Don’t go there. You know I am incorrigible. This isn’t Mitchell’s first either though he came back faster from the first concussion in 2006 (where he missed 9 games).
On August 6, Mitchell was medically cleared to participate in medical testing for potential NHL suitors. The Canucks have been talking to him but they are naturally cautious due to the seriousness of his injury. Mitchell just came off a 4 year, $14 million dollar contract.
I suppose the point is this. Willie Mitchell is a warrior. He can skate, hit, block shots, is a sound positional defenseman, can knock opposing forward’s teeth in and possesses the kind of leadership and character Lombardi covets. He is 33 years old. However, today, like tomorrow, he comes with a risk. To sign him is to potentially throw valuable cap space away. But when you look at the defensemen left out there in free agency…let’s just say nobody is even close to his caliber.
Does Dean take a risk with an incentive laden contract that keeps the cap hit low if he doesn’t stay healthy? Perhaps. Would you?