Yesterday we learned the bad news that Willie Mitchell's knee had to be scoped, and that he was done for the season. Although the team is waiting for more information, Lombardi has begun to discuss the possibility he may not return next season as well.
Here's Gann Matsuda on today's press conference:
#lakings Lombardi indicated that, although it’s very preliminary, there is a chance that Willie Mitchell might not be able to play in ‘13-14— Frozen Royalty (@frozenroyalty) April 3, 2013
Again, #lakings Lombardi’s comments on Mitchell are based on PRELIMNARY medical info. Could turn out to be totally wrong.— Frozen Royalty (@frozenroyalty) April 3, 2013
This would be a heavy blow, but there is nothing to do but wait for more news. It's safe to say the minor knee surgery in the offseason has had more complications than anyone anticipated.
Willie Mitchell's free agency signing in in the summer of 2010 was a turning point for this franchise. Mitchell helped stabilize the blue line at a time the Kings were rebuilding. He maintained his status as one of the best tough-minutes defensemen in the league, always sent out in key situations.
Last February, when it wasn't even certain the Kings would secure a playoff spot, the 12 year veteran signed on for another two seasons. When asked why, he gave a vote of confidence in the roster: “For me, I’ve played a little while. It’s all about winning. I want a Cup."
A few months later, Dustin Brown handed the Cup to him first.
No matter what happens, I hope that Mitchell knows how much love and respect that Kings fans have for him. I can only imagine what Mitchell is feeling right now, but we're all wishing him the best.