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Kings’ Mitchell (knee) officially done for year, ‘legitimate concern’ for next season

Apr 4, 2013, 11:37 AM EDT

willie-mitchell-getty Getty Images

Earlier this week, we passed along word that LA defenseman Willie Mitchell underwent another knee surgery, one that agent Mike Liut said would sideline Mitchell for the remainder of the year but would have him ready for next season.

Now, that latter diagnosis is coming into question.

Yesterday, Kings GM Dean Lombardi said the only certainty is that Mitchell won’t play this year — anything beyond that, the club simply doesn’t know.

“At least we got some finality that he’s not coming back this year,” Lombardi told Mayors Manor. “Now I’m getting some information, and I don’t like speaking to it because I don’t have it all, but I guess it’s safe to say that there would be a legitimate concern now about whether he plays next year.”

Mitchell, 35, is in the first season of a two-year, $7 million deal. He carries an average annual cap hit of $3.5 million and, because he signed as an over-35 player (he turns 36 later this month), the Kings are on the hook for the entirety of his salary.

Furthermore, Mitchell wouldn’t be eligible for a compliance buyout this summer because he’s injured.

It’s a tough blow for a Kings team looking to repeat as Stanley Cup champs. Mitchell was an integral part of LA’s success in 2011-12, scoring a career-high 24 points while shouldering a huge workload in the playoffs, averaging 25:19 TOI per game through 20 contests.

The only King to play more during the Cup run was Drew Doughty.

As such, Lombardi was guarded about trying to predict Mitchell’s future, but made it clear there’s a lot of doubt at hand.

“Let’s just say now that [missing next season] is possible, where I wouldn’t have thought it possible [before],” Lombardi said. “We always thought, okay, well if we don’t get him back this year, this isn’t serious.

“But apparently some other things might’ve shown up. Until I get the whole story, I probably should hold off.”

  1. ignath - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:43 AM

    Too bad for Mitchell…class act and one heck of a player.

    Loved him when he played for the Wild, sorry Kings.

  2. colby7 - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:45 AM

    Say it aint so Willie! Something tells me that things have detoriated after Sutter called him out on missing time during his career. Willie is a stubborn guy and id be suprised to see him skate for the Kings again.

  3. busdriver71 - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:55 AM

    So back in January his coach called him out for not coming back quicker:
    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/23/sports/la-sp-kings-fyi-20130124

    And now The Kings have doubts he will be able to play next year.

    Very strange.

    • colby7 - Apr 4, 2013 at 12:07 PM

      Similar situation happened with the Canucks. He didnt come back right away after getting crushed by Malkin from behind, and took some time off because he had headaches and vision problems.

      Needles to stay, that was the end of him as a Canuck.

      Not many can go out as champs, not the worst way to go out!

  4. mclovinhockey - Apr 4, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    He looks like an Italian chef in that photo.
    So that plus this scary post just made me think
    “That’s a spicy meatball”

  5. surfoside4life - Apr 4, 2013 at 2:43 PM

    Extremely disappointing news. He was a huge part of our cup run. However, I think we’ve made some good moves to revamp the defense without mitchell and greeney

  6. blomfeld - Apr 4, 2013 at 11:10 PM

    “YOU ARE RELIEVED SIR … AND WE DO THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE” …

    I hate to say it friends, but I suspect that we’ve seen the last of Willie Mitchell. It’s a shame really, as he played a “massive” role in our rearguard during our glorious SC march last spring. Nonetheless, what a wonderful way for the man to close out his hockey career before he moves on to the next chapter of his life, eh? Shunned by the Canucks despite being a hometown favorite and Port McNeil native, he then moves on to join our LA Kings and wins the Stanley Cup with us, while playing such a “pivotal” part in the process of our righteous achievement. If anything, Mitchell got the last laugh at these Canuckle clowns, that’s for sure. I therefore wish him well and may God speed.

  7. kingsforever - Apr 5, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Regehr replaced him

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