It’s been a tough season and a half for shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell, but some people will take a “told you so” tone when discussing the Los Angeles Kings’ decision to sign him.
That’s because every reasonable hockey person knew that the team was taking a risk on the defenseman, who missed almost half of the 2009-10 season – plus the playoffs – after suffering a concussion from an Evgeni Malkin hit. Especially when you consider the Kings’ lengthy history of getting burned badly by injury prone players.
Don’t get me wrong, Mitchell is a very useful player when he’s healthy, but that hasn’t been the case for much of this season. He’s only played in half (15) of the Kings’ 30 games in 10-11, as he dealt with a broken arm in November and now ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the former Canucks blueliner is expected to miss two to three weeks with a “lower body injury.”
LeBrun made a good point when he said that, ultimately, the Kings only care that he can suit up during the playoffs.
Of course, it’s not safe to assume many teams in the clouded Western Conference picture will make the playoffs. Los Angeles would be in there if the postseason started tonight, but only by a small margin: they own a tie-breaker for the eighth spot because they have games in hand over the Coyotes and Blackhawks.