I can't think of a more deserving guy. 719 games. 12 years. Never been in the Final until now. One of many MVP's on this Kings team.
Asked about the Kings’ seven-day break before the start of the Stanley Cup Finals, Willie Mitchell grinned and said that the lengthy rest period would be welcomed by the team’s "over-35 crowd.’’
"Is there anyone else there? I put my foot in my mouth,’’ Mitchell said with a laugh.
Mitchell is the crowd. He turned 35 last month. He is the Kings' oldest player, and nobody has waited longer to reach this point. No current King had totaled more regular-season games without reaching the Finals than Mitchell, who ran his total to 719 games as part of a 12-year NHL career with New Jersey, Dallas, Minnesota, Vancouver and the Kings.
Mitchell had reached the Western Conference Finals with Minnesota in 2003 but lost. On Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz., he was on the ice when Dustin Penner’s overtime goal sent the Kings to the Finals.
"It’s still personally -- I can’t speak for everyone -- still a pretty surreal feeling,’’ Mitchell said Thursday. "It’s been a long time coming. It’s what you work for, as a player and teammates. I was fortunate enough to be out on the ice when Big Pens scored. Some guys were jumping. I was just sitting there like, `Is this happening?’ I feel fortunate to get this chance and get the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup for real."
"As a kid, you play, how many, road-hockey games playing for it. Now I’m going to be on one of two teams to do it for the real deal. So I’m really looking forward to it and I’m just going to enjoy it. I had a little time there where I didn’t know if hockey was going to even continue, for that matter, so I think at this time of year -- after going through that, too -- it just kind of allows me to enjoy it that much more.’’
If the Kings win the Cup, seeing Mitchell hoist the Cup will probably be what turns on the waterworks for me. He's waited so long and been nothing but a class act his entire career. He had that terrible concussion a couple years back and nobody wanted to take a risk on him. He didn't even know if he was going to play hockey again. And now he's a monstrously important defenseman for us and going to compete for the Cup.
IF we win the Cup, it should go from Brown, to Quick, to Mitchell.
Gotta admit I haven't been the biggest Mitchell fan, but he has been nothing but solid in the playoffs, and I really think he has helped Voynov's game along. Seems like a great guy, the type of player you want to see getting a real shot at the cup.
Willie is JAZZED. Talked to him today, he never stopped smiling and was in even higher spirits than usual. Consummate pro, absolute warrior and one of my favorite guys to watch well before he was a King. Like Richie10 above, I think I'd be happiest for him of the Kings can win this thing. I was at the game where Malkin knocked him out, was there the first day he got to camp in LA and have loved covering him these past two years. Just an awesome dude with everyone--teammates, coaches, fans, reporters, hell, even opposing players respect him.
Danny Duberstein is good at two things ...