Willie Mitchell has epitomized leadership and playing the right way since his arrival in the NHL over 15 years ago, especially during his tenure with the Los Angeles Kings. Mitchell throws himself in front of shots and plays a hard-nosed, physical game every single night. The level of respect he garners from his teammates for this no-nonsense style is unquestioned. No place was this more apparent than when team captain Dustin Brown handed him the Stanley Cup in 2012 making him the second King to ever lift the Cup after Brown took the first lap.
Two years later, Mitchell and the Kings have a chance at their second Cup and for the Clarkson University alum, it could be the perfect victory lap into the sunset of retirement. Mitchell is 37 years old and is more of a depth player and veteran presence than a big time minute muncher like he used to be. He has also battled through a plethora of injuries in recent years, that not too long ago jeopardized his hockey career.
Mitchell missed the entire lockout shortened 2012-13 season and it looked like his career had come to an end. This year he battled back and played 76 games for the Kings and despite missing the entire series against the Anaheim Ducks with an undisclosed injury, has been a steadying presence on the Kings’ blue line.
Mitchell has been a “team first” guy his entire career and his teammates should reciprocate that in their efforts during the series. With the Kings three wins away from the Stanley Cup, the team’s mantra should be “Win it for Willie”.