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?

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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26 replies

  1. The real question is, does Mitchell want to play in LA? I don’t think he does. Reports that he is down to 4 teams and LA is not one of them.

    It is definitely Lombardi’s MO to sign players coming off of injuries. Did he ever play for the Flyers or Sharks?

    • Who’s reports? And if you say who I think you may, then I may just have to give you a flogging…

      • He’s referring to this report from sportsnet:

        “The Port McNeill, B.C., native has narrowed it down to four teams including the Canucks; the other teams are believed to be the Red Wings, Sharks and Capitals.”

        This is where Howard’s latest article comes crashing into reality, “believed to be” becomes “IS/ARE”.

        Says who? Believed to be by sportsnet? By sportsnet’s not-even-good-enough-to-be-named-anonymous source?

        There isn’t even a damn author for the sportsnet report. “Web staff” Ok? Great. Glad the IT could get in on the rumor mill.

        • I should point out that I think I’m wrong on this one about the performance bonuses and Mitchell. I have read that he is a special case, and since he has missed so many games recently, he is eligible for performance bonuses.

          Problem is… I forget where I read it! (it wasn’t some random nutjob)

  2. I don’t know if its worth the risk. Concussions are serious and do affect a player’s ability (mentally and physically). Is there anyone else out there that fits his MO and is healthy?

  3. This was a pretty serious concussion that Mitchell is coming off of, so I think obviously, if you consider signing him, you have to cut the salary and tie incentives to games played. Mitchell is a true warrior, and as such should try to come back as strong as he can, so the team that takes a chance on him may well be richly rewarded. I wouldn’t hate it if Lombardi could talk him into signing here. You would just hate to sign him and then have him turn into a reincarnation of Eric Lindros, who was never the same after the massive concussion that Scotty Stevens gave him.

    • I don’t think a player under 35 (unless on an ELC) can receive performance bonuses.

      I’m for signing Mitchell under two conditions:

      1- Contract is no longer than 2 years.
      2- Cap hit is no higher than 2.5MM.

      Give him his same 3.5 this year, but only 1.5 the next. Not sure how this works, but maybe a team option for a 3rd year, at 4 mill, which assumes he was healthy for the first two, would be good. I just don’t know if that counts against the hit of the 2 years (doubt it), or if that’s even allowed with players under 53 years old.

      Either way, Mitchell is the only true top 4 defenseman out there in UFA.

      I would, ideally, prefer a healthier/younger top 4, but that can only be acquired through trade, so it wholly depends on assets going back. Life ain’t perfect, and neither is Mitchell’s head, but nor is trading away the assets required to get a good top 4 dman back.

  4. At this point looking at the NHL market the pickens are slim. Might have no choice.

    I’m not sure what type of defensman the Kings really “need”. Everybody wants a puck moving defensman, but those are really hard to find. A shut down type? Where would Mitchell fit in? I’m not sure. His leadership attributes are noted.

    As a separate issue I think Malkin is a jerk, and I would like to see him get his ass kicked. Remember that hit (to the head) on Wayne Simmonds at the end of the game in Pittsburgh 2 seasons ago?

  5. Looks like dancing boy has picked up your story. Soon to be an e4. :)

  6. if we sign him to a 1-year deal, which is what would likely happen wherever he signs, the cap hit is irrelevant… we’re not capping out this offseason… so might as well take a gamble on a great player for a relatively cheap price

  7. Is there anything to the rumors that Mitchell is in LA taking a physical?

  8. I think this article may have had a karmic impact. From Kyper:

    “LA’s focus isn’t on Kovy or Kaberle, it’s on Willie Mitchell. He’s impressed all with testing and plans to make playing decision soon.”

    • Better than your Kovalchuk to LA one? ;)

      If Mitchell is healthy, this would be a huge signing by Lombardi. He’s the best defenseman available without losing assets.

      • Hey, hey, hey…hey…I never promised it, I predicted it and how the hell was I supposed to anticipate a snake and cheat would make a Russian sandwich out of Kovy…hey…

  9. Really hoping Mitchell decides that he wants to play in LA. He instantly changes the entire composition of our defense.

  10. Consider the tree shaken…but I won’t say. Absent 100% confirmation one way or another, Surly and I don’t say it will or will not happen. Not our style.

  11. That’s just teasing! Not even a hint?

  12. I didn’t like Malkin’s elbow on Simmons last year, either.


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