Kings’ Mitchell making progress: Lombardi

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It’s been almost a full year – Tuesday officially marks the anniversary – since Willie Mitchell last played a National Hockey League game.

On Sunday, not even 24 hours after the L.A. Kings were knocked out of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks, general manager Dean Lombardi offered a brief update on Mitchell, who missed the entire 2013 season due to a knee injury suffered during the lockout.

As per Lisa Dillman of the L.A. Times, Lombardi said Mitchell is making progress, but it was the same progress he experienced before the setback that led to another knee operation earlier this spring.

As of the beginning of April, there was “legitimate concern” about Mitchell playing next season.

Mitchell turned 36 years of age in April, and is entering the final year of a two-year contract worth $7 million.

He’s played in 719 regular season games over the course of his career, which includes stops in New Jersey, Minnesota, Dallas, Vancouver and L.A.

Mitchell was also an integral part of the Kings blue line corps during last year’s Stanley Cup victory.