|Willie Mitchell at Kings camp (photo: CIKIRI)|
As you’re about to read from Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, things can be a bit unpredictable at this time of year.
For the team’s practice session this morning, coach Terry Murray has (at least for now) abandoned the two groups he used yesterday. Today he put the NHL players in their own unit, with one noticeable addition – prospect Slava Voyunov was been paired with Mitchell, Drew Doughty‘s usual partner.
Yesterday, after his on-ice workout, Mitchell seemed to be a little slower than usual.
“Just some wear and tear on the groins this time of the year,” said Mitchell. “We’re doing a lot of skating and in the first game I played quite a bit, so I just have a bit of tightness in the groin. I’m just making sure it doesn’t become an issue.”
His 24+ minutes of playing time on Wednesday in Phoenix was just a few seconds behind Alec Martinez for tops on the team. That wasn’t necessarily the plan going into the game, it’s just how things developed.
“With the line-up the Coyotes dressed – they dressed a pretty full line-up, I think they had about 16 regulars out there – at this time of year, organizations want to see their (prospects) a little bit, to see what they can do. But, they also want to stay in a hockey game. So, I think the ‘D’ who has been around a little bit, we maybe played more they wanted us to because of that. But, it’s a good thing. It gets you going and right now the only way to get ready for the season is playing games. It doesn’t matter what you do here on the ice here with skating – it’s about getting into game situations and making reads. So, I enjoyed it.”
And with the first round of roster cuts already made and more expected in the next 48 hours, things are starting to settle down – which is something Mitchell appreciates.
“I find it’s always a tough thing (during camp and pre-season), I just try to focus on the things I do. You’re playing with different players and it’s really unpredictable out there,” explained Mitchell. “Some kids are junior kids – I was that age once – you don’t have the right reads yet though. You have American League guys, who you’re not used to playing with. It’s all very unpredictable. So, I just try to worry about my game during pre-season.”
Mitchell played 57 games for the Kings last season, his first of a two year contract. His veteran leadership was consistently praised by teammates and the coaching staff. His five goals were a career high.
While most people wanted to ask him about Doughty’s absence during the first few days of camp, the real story may be his self-admitted bro-mance with new Kings center, Mike Richards – that story is here.