I’ll have more from Darryl Sutter following the afternoon skate, but Willie Mitchell is prepared to make his return to the Kings lineup for Friday evening’s exhibition game against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver. Due to knee inflammation that required a pair of surgeries, he hasn’t played since hoisting the Stanley Cup at Staples Center on June 11, 2012.
Willie Mitchell, on whether he has his bags packed for Denver:
I think so. I hope so…I’m playing for sure, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m not looking forward to the thin air, but…after the road I traveled, I’d take that any day of the week. I’m excited. Really excited to go. Just excited to get in game action. Gameday’s fun. Darryl talks about it. It’s true. You put in the work in practice so you can have fun in the games. I’m just going to enjoy it and keep working on my timing, working on everything.
On how hard preparation has been as he has gotten closer to returning:
Not hard. It gets easier, I think. [Reporter: I meant as far as the anticipation of playing again. Or no – you just know it’s going to come?] It’s just, I guess, more rewarding. That part of it is fun – of work to give myself this opportunity, and work to this point to hopefully help the team out again. I know I can do that as long as I stay healthy. I guess the anticipation of that is there. But the game itself is just taking it as what I’ve done for however many years I’ve played, is that it’s just another game, just another preseason game, and the same preparation, the same work, the same all that. Just because I haven’t played in 14 months, I don’t think it’s like all of a sudden it’s like you don’t know how to think anymore. I think my strength as a player is reading and reacting and thinking the game well, and that’s what I’m going to go out and do, is try and work on my reads, work on the positioning, my timing and all that, and holding that down and keep improving that every day so I can bring what I think I can bring to the table and be a good teammate so we can get going.
Mitchell was part of the morning practice group at Toyota Sports Center, which was comprised primarily of players expected to travel to Denver this afternoon. That group included: