If there were any misguided souls that still thought Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell was going to make a return this season, it’s time to put an end to that hope.
Though the Kings ceded the fact that Mitchell would be a part of their club at some point during the 2013 season, it looks like that is about to become something very official.
Mitchell has been out for the entire year after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. He recently underwent another procedure on his knee, which was believed to have been necessary to clean up some debris. But the prognosis was not positive.
Apparently, whatever they found in Mitchell’s knee was serious enough for Dean Lombardi to come out and acknowledge the possibility that Mitchell may not only miss the remainder of this year, but could miss the entirety of the 2013-14 season as well.
It’s very likely that Mitchell will miss at least a portion of next season. It’s also not possible for the Kings to buyout his contract, as he’s on injured reserve. Long-term IR does seem like a possibility at this point, though, if they need the extra cash.
Though the Kings have made several additions to their blue line over the course of the year, including Keaton Ellerby and Robyn Regehr, it’s pretty clear that Mitchell has been missed. He was a key piece of their Stanley Cup run and is a top penalty killer.
Now it’s all but official that the Kings will be without Mitchell for the remainder of the year. The only thing left for them to do at this point is hope that his recover goes well enough that he could return at some point over the course of next season.