NHL Hockey: Willie Mitchell
Name: Willie Mitchell #33 – D
Team: Los Angeles
POB: Port McNeill, B.C., Canada
Height: 6-3 Weight: 208lbs
NHL Seasons: 11
Drafted by New Jersey in 1996 (8/199).
Hockey Player by Winter; Fisherman by Summer
“The Long Sticked One!”
Willie Mitchell is one of the few professional athletes from the beautiful West Coast town of Port McNeil, BC. He was born on April 23, 1977 in the small West Coast logging town and besides fishing and leading the West Coast life, Mitchell was guiding his minor hockey team (as a winger) to a pee-wee and bantam provincial double-A title.
Like so many young Canadian hockey hopefuls, Mitchell`s next move would be to Wilcox, Saskatchewan where he was recruited to be a part of the Notre Dame Hounds. It was there that Mitchell switched from wing to defense.
Mitchell then went on to play Junior A hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League for the Kelowna Spartans in 1994–95 and the Saskatchewan Hockey League with the Melfort Mustangs.
Mitchell`s exposure at every level of the game resulted in an athletic scholarship at Clarkson University in New York in 1997, a year after he was drafted into the NHL by the New Jersey Devils in the eighth round – 199th overall.
It wouldn`t be long before success followed Mitchell to college – in 1999, Clarkson won the ECAC Championship in a tournament in which Mitchell was named MVP.
Mitchell would go on to play two seasons with the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League (AHL) while earning limited playing time with the Devils over two seasons.
2001 saw Mitchell get traded to Minnesota where he would spend four seasons and finally get regular playing time. It was then off to Dallas as a late-season rental player.
Mitchell finally settled in Vancouver where he’d spend four solid seasons and receive the honour of the Canucks best defenseman two times.
Mitchell had his share of injury issues in every season as a Canuck but he quickly became a fan favourite for his “home-town” team. Injury concerns, an expiring contract and Vancouver’s acquisition of Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard brought an end to Mitchell’s time with the Canucks.
After four seasons in Vancouver, Willie signed with Los Angeles in August 2010. Mitchell expressed disappointment in leaving the Canucks, but stated he was, “looking forward to going to a team which, I get the feeling, is really passionate about having me there.”
Once again, injuries plagued Mitchell limiting him to just 57 games in his first year with the Kings.
Willie Mitchell continues to be an integral part of the Los Angeles team – this time as a mentor to some of the young core of players and as a reliable defenseman that can eat up minutes.
Mitchell’s leadership qualities and his stay-at-home style has served him well in every phase of his career and in his personal life as well.
He has represented his town, his province and on a number of occasions, his country with class and humility.