The Los Angeles Kings have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with unrestricted free agent defenseman Willie Mitchell, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
Mitchell, 32, recorded 12 points (4-8=12), 48 penalty minutes and a plus-13 plus/minus rating in 48 regular season games this past season with Vancouver. Known as a stay-at-home defenseman, he had a time-on-ice average of 22:36 per game which ranked third on the Canucks, and his short-handed time-on-ice average of 4:04 per game led the team.
Including this past season, Mitchell has logged 22-plus minutes of ice per game over the last four seasons. He’s also logged 20-plus minutes of ice time in each of his last eight seasons.
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Mitchell, who only missed a total of 10 regular season games due to injury in the previous two seasons (2008-09 and 2007-08), was sidelined for 34 regular season games this past season after suffering a concussion vs. Pittsburgh on Jan. 16, 2010. The 6-3, 208-pound native of Port McNeil, British Columbia , also missed the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs because of his injury.
Mitchell, who was named one of Vancouver’s alternate captains prior to the start of the 2008-09 season, set career-highs for games played (82), assists (20), points (23) and plus/minus rating (plus-29) while also collecting 59 penalty minutes for Vancouver in the 2008-09 campaign, and his plus-29 rating and short-handed time-on-ice average of 4:15 per game led the team. In addition, his time-on-ice average of 22:54 per game ranked second overall on the team, as did his 125 blocked shots. For his efforts, he was named the Canucks “Best Defenseman” for a second consecutive season. Mitchell also skated in 10 postseason games (10 GP, 0-2=2, 22 PIM) during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs while helping Vancouver advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. His average time-on-ice of 24:12 during the playoffs led the Canucks.
In 2007-08, Mitchell’s second season with the Canucks, the blueliner was voted Vancouver’s “Best Defenseman” after recording 12 points (2-10=12), 81 penalty minutes and a plus-6 rating in 72 regular season games while logging career highs for time-on-ice average per game (23:11) and short-handed time-on-ice average per game (4:24; led the team). That same season, Mitchell led the team with 109 blocked shots.
Mitchell signed with Vancouver as a free agent in July of 2006, and he totaled 11 points (1-10=11), 45 penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating in 62 regular season games during the 2006-07 season. He also led the team with 121 blocked shots and a short-handed time-on-ice average of 4:57 per game (third in the league). In the playoffs that year, Mitchell had one assist and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games to go along with a time-on-ice average of 27:13 per game and a short-handed time-on-ice average of 5:19 per game (led the team).
In 2005-06, Mitchell suited up for both Dallas and Minnesota , totaling 10 points (2-8=10), a career-high 113 penalty minutes and a plus-19 rating in 80 regular season games. He had eight points (2-6=8), 87 penalty minutes and a plus-15 rating in 64 regular season games with Minnesota – and in December of 2005 he was named captain as the Wild (Minnesota had a monthly rotating captaincy. He later was traded to Dallas along with Minnesota ’s second-round choice in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft (Nico Saccheti) for Martin Skoula and Shawn Belle on March 9, 2006. In 16 regular season games with Dallas , Mitchell collected two assists, 26 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating. In five postseason games with the Stars, he went scoreless with two penalty minutes.
Mitchell spent three full seasons with the Wild after being traded to Minnesota from New Jersey for Sean O’Donnell on March 4, 2001. In 2003-04, he totaled 14 points (1-13=14), 83 penalty minutes and a plus-12 rating in 70 regular season games while logging an average of 22:35 of ice time per game (second on the team). In 2002-03, he totaled 14 points (2-12=14), 84 penalty minutes and a plus-13 rating in 69 regular season games before he and the Wild advanced to the Western Conference Finals. During the 2003 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Mitchell collected four points (1-3=4), 14 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating in 18 postseason games. In 2001-02, he recorded 13 points (3-10=13) and 68 penalty minutes in 68 regular season games with the Wild.
During the 2000-01 season, Mitchell began play with the Devils (16 GP, 0-2=2, 29 PIM) before he was acquired by the Wild (17 GP, 1-7=8, 11 PIM, Plus-4) and the Devils (16 GP, 0-2=2, 29 PIM). His totals that season included 10 points (1-9=10), 40 penalty minutes and a plus-4 rating in 33 regular season games. Mitchell made his NHL debut with the Devils in 1999-00, going scoreless with zero penalty minutes in two regular season games.
Mitchell, who was originally selected by New Jersey in the eighth-round (199th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft, has 19 goals, 100 assists, 119 points (19-100=119), 621 penalty minutes and a plus-82 rating in 586 career NHL regular season games with the Canucks, Stars, Wild and Devils. He also has appeared in 45 career postseason games, recording seven points (1-6=7), 50 penalty minutes and a plus-1 rating.
On the International stage, Mitchell suited up for his native Canada at the 2004 World Championships where he was a member of the gold-medal winning team (9 GP, 0-0=0, 0 PIM).
Prior to embarking on his NHL career, Mitchell, an avid fisherman, played two seasons with Clarkson University (NCAA) where he was named to the NCAA East Second All-American Team in 1999 and ECAC Rookie of the year in 1998 (co-winner with Eric Cole). He also appeared on the roster of the Albany River Rats (AHL) in 1998-99, 1999-00 and 2000-01 before becoming a full-timer in the NHL.
LAKINGS.COM — Q&A WITH WILLIE MITCHELL
On Joining The Kings
“It’s very exciting. It’s a new opportunity and new opportunities are really exciting. I feel very fortunate to get a chance to join a young team that is getting better and better every year and hopefully I can come in there and do the things I have done throughout my career and add another piece to the puzzle and win a Stanley Cup.”
On Kings- Canucks Playoffs
“Speaking to ex-teammates of mine now, and some peers of mine, they felt the Kings gave them everything that they could handle. That’s exciting for a young team and as a young team you have to go through some series and experiences like that to get you to the next level. I have been to the playoffs a lot in my career and hopefully I can come down and bring some experience in those situations and help the team build toward the ultimate prize.”
“Yeah it’s been done on my schedule, but not so much on the schedule of general managers and coaches. In free agency, you want to get things done on July 1, but I wanted to go through the proper things and the proper protocol and by that I mean training at the proper level that I need to train at, the level that I want to skate at and put myself through all those rigors to get myself ready to play at a level I am used to playing. I have done that and that’s when I started speaking with teams and now I am excited about the opportunity here and hopefully I can help that team get to another level.”
Mitchell is expected to make his first public appearance with the Kings at LA Kings Hockey Fest ’10.
Tickets for LA Kings Hockey Fest ’10 — an interactive festival celebrating the Los Angeles Kings and the game of hockey – are on sale. The event will take place on Saturday, September 11, at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tickets cost $15 for Kings Season Ticket members, Partial Plan and Group Leaders by calling 1-888-KINGS-LA (1-888-54647-52). Tickets for the general public cost $20 and be can purchased by visiting LAKings.com/hockeyfest2010. Only 2,000 tickets total are available for purchase.