Willie Mitchell suffered a scare late in the third period of Saturday’s exhibition finale when he took a shot off his ankle and appeared to be in pain for the remainder of his shift before skating some of the pain away during a TV timeout. He finished the game.
At the time, I had a poor view of the incident. I was returning from a concourse restroom and was delayed near the press box by arena ushers in an area with an obscured view. I did not see the shot hit his ankle and instead thought I had seen a knee buckle – before returning to Twitter and the game’s live blog to offer my account.
Darryl Sutter did not offer a grave update of the injury after the game, saying that Mitchell “blocked a shot,” and continued to add that it was “no big deal. It was the only shot we blocked tonight. Defensemen are supposed to block shots.”
Mitchell walked from the team’s dressing room to the bench with a slight limp before taking the ice for practice this morning at the Toyota Sports Center. He was able to fully participate.
On how he felt following the team’s practice:
Fine. It was OK. It wasn’t as bad as it was at the time, and I didn’t get a lot a lot of swelling, so all good.
On whether he had any limitations at practice:
It hurts for a little bit, but then just like anyone else, you get used to it once you start skating on it and getting the blood moving. Nope, no limitations at all. It was all good.
On the blocked shot:
It’s just the ankle. All hockey players have taken ‘em there. I told the boys – I said, ‘Well, there’s a lot of things you miss about the game of hockey when you’re out 15 months, but getting one of those off the ankle, where you don’t have any padding, is not one of them, I’ll tell you that.’
On his excitement to start the season this week:
It’ll be good. Lots of work to do yet. We’ve got to work on a few things. A few teams get started before us, so I’m just looking forward to it and jumping right in. It’s a back-to-back, and a couple teams’ hope openers. They’re always fun. As we all know, we love our own home opener, so teams on the other side are geared up, and even being an opposing team, it’s fun to be a part of those, so we’re looking forward to it. It’s two great hockey markets, so it makes it a little bit more special, and like I said, just kind of continue building on what we’re doing here and getting ready for it.
On the impact of the preseason on his knee:
To be honest, I know everyone asks it, but I’m kind of tired of answering it. I guess it is a situation, but I’m just looking forward to business as usual right now for me. I’ve kind of passed all those hurdles. Played a back-to-back in Vegas, and everything was fine. Like I said, just continuing to work on my game, trying to continue to try and be a better teammate, and do the things I know I’m capable of and the things that are my strengths and continue working on those, and getting ready for [Thursday]. The preparation is going to start now for what we need to do [Thursday]. I’m just trying to get the mind in the right place and get ready to go.
On whether it was good to play in a back-to-back set before the season:
For myself, personally, yeah, it was excellent. I think I needed that challenge after everything I’ve kind of been through, and I think for the team as well. Darryl stressed that early on. I think we have – I think he said 14 back to backs – something crazy like that. So we’re going to have to be a good hockey team on those back-to-backs if we want to do what we want to do, which is win the division…so we get home ice for the second season. That’s all our focus, and it starts Wednesday.