With Willie Mitchell back in town, it seemed like the perfect time to break out something our readers are always asking for. Even though Florida’s morning skate was optional for their players today, to the surprise of nobody, Mitchell was not only out on the ice, but was one of the last players off it, as well. Soon after, he flashed that contagious smile and we had a chance to catch up with the Panthers captain, beginning with some Word Association…
Anze Kopitar – “Controls the game through the middle of the ice”
Dustin Brown – “Big, strong, power forward”
Justin Williams – “Slick, slick player”
Jeff Carter – “Speed, great shot”
Jarret Stoll – “Hum now”
Kyle Clifford – “Beauty”
Dwight King – “Big Chief”
Drew Doughty – “Just a pleasure”
Jake Muzzin – “Dirty toe drag”
Jonathan Quick – “Competitor”
Darryl Sutter – “Master motivator”
Leaning on a segment we did several years ago titled ‘What I’ve Learned About…’ – where Kings players shared thoughts about their teammates – Mitchell offered some extended comments on three individuals he learned quite a bit about during his time in Los Angeles:
Doughty – “Passion for the game, love of the game. Comes to the rink happy to play. He loves the game of hockey and that passion drives his will to win.”
Brown – “Techie (lots of laughter, referring to this)… Quiet, composed leader who plays hard. He’s always sacrificing his body. He’d do anything to win a game and he’ll go outside his comfort zone to do it.”
Dean Lombardi – “Very analytical. He’d probably laugh because I’m very analytical, as well. But, he’s very analytical. He’s always trying to be four or five steps ahead.”
Contrary to the rumors out there, Mitchell will not be getting his 2014 Stanley Cup ring from Dean Lombardi tonight. LA’s mastermind is in Toronto for the league’s GM meetings and isn’t expected to make it back in time. Although he isn’t exactly sure how it will play out tonight, Mitchell said he was likely expecting it to be from Sutter, VP Jeff Solomon, or maybe Rob Blake if he makes it back before game time.
Regardless, he recalls how the Kings were distracted after raising the 2012 banner to the rafters and receiving their rings following their first Stanley Cup, and he’s sure tonight will likely bring similar issues.
“The whole game is [going to be] a bit of a distraction,” he shared. “Even leading up to it, because we’ve been in town for a little bit. I don’t know though. I think you use it to motivate yourself. I’m going to try to do the things I do and have some fun and enjoy it. Then, just try to play the right way.”
Never one to hide his feelings, Mitchell tried to explain his pre-game emotions by talking about what he misses most about being part of the Kings organization.
“I really enjoyed my time here,” he said. “There is such a good group of guys here that I won with. And when you win you forge relationships that you’ll have for a lifetime. Those aren’t stopping now, by any means, just because I’m on another team. That’s what I miss the most, the fellas. That’s the lasting thing.”
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