Willie Mitchell and evolving expectations - LA Kings Insider

I had been planning on writing my weekly LAKings.com feature on the club’s young defensemen, and Darryl Sutter’s acknowledgement of how integral they’d be towards any type of playoff run.

And then I spoke with Willie Mitchell earlier today. I had been planning on asking him about several of the young blueliners with whom he has partnered with during his tenure as a King. His response, in which he runs through the spectrum of his experience with Los Angeles, beginning with watching the team while he was sidelined as a member of the Canucks in 2010, is a good read. Consider this a preview of this week’s LAK.com story.

Willie Mitchell, on what the team’s expectations were when he arrived in Los Angeles, and what the team’s expectations are heading into the 2014 postseason:
Coming here, the team was on the uptrend a little bit. That was part of the reason why I came here when I did. The team [was] in the playoffs, played us in Vancouver, had a decent series against Vancouver. This group in here thought they actually should’ve beaten Vancouver in that series. But that belief that they thought they could have was part of a motivating factor for me to come here because I thought they played OK against Vancouver. I think they just actually at that time of the year thought they were a little bit better than what they were. I wasn’t playing – I had a concussion. But Vancouver kind of dominated the five-on-five play, and there were a lot of special teams, and L.A. was great on it. Drew was exceptional that year on the back end. I think L.A. scored some timely goals to have some tight games but they weren’t quite as deep as maybe Vancouver was at that point in time. The expectation then was to get back to the postseason and be that young up-and-coming team that makes some noise, and then those things started to transpire, and I think when you start to get that up-trend, and you have a little bit of adversity, it actually helps you in the long run. We all saw that when we won. We went through a lot of adversity and you get yourself out the other side and realize, ‘OK this is what it takes to win, and this consistency, this type of game,’ and we found our identity as a hockey club. I’m sure Darryl was a part of that, but we had a good foundation from Terry [with] the defensive side of the game, found a little bit more consistency to our game and a little bit more jam, I guess you could say, playing a big, strong, fast game. So then, yeah, you win, and the majority, if you look around…is still here, so yeah, the expectations are very big. I didn’t play the lockout-shortened season. The team went to the Western Conference Final, had some bumps along the way. To win, you’ve got to play well, but you also get lucky, and when we made our run, we were pretty injury-free, right? We’re a little bit deeper, I’d say, now, and I think the expectation is hopefully we go through without any injuries, but if we have some, we’re going to be able to handle those maybe a little bit easier. We know the road’s not going to be 16-4. That was pretty exceptional. You’ve got to win it all different types of ways, and I think the expectation now is that we want to win a Stanley Cup. We’re one of those teams that we know our game plays well at this time of year. Everyone believes that, and when you believe as a hockey club, it can go a long ways. So I think that’s the expectation of the organization right now, is win now, and anything less than that – that son of a [gun] again – it’s a failure. That’s what we want to do.

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Adrian Kempe

#9 | 6′ 2″ | 195 lb | Age: 21

Born: September 13, 1996
Birthplace: Kramfors, SWE
Position: LW
Handedness: Left


Kempe was selected by the Kings in the first round (29th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft.

Alex Iafallo

#19 | 6′ | 185 lb | Age: 23

Born: December 21, 1993
Birthplace: Eden, NY, USA
Position: C
Handedness: Left


Iafallo was signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on April 18, 2017.

Anze Kopitar

#11 | 6′ 3″ | 224 lb | Age: 29

Born: August 24, 1987
Birthplace: Jesenice, SVN
Position: C
Handedness: Left


As the 11th overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Kopitar became the first Slovenian to play in the NHL. Kopitar has spent his entire NHL career with the Kings, and following the 2015–16 season, was named the Kings’ captain. Noted for both his offensive and defensive play, Kopitar was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the NHL in 2016.

Drew Doughty

#8 | 6′ 1″ | 195 lb | Age: 26

Born: December 8, 1989
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: D
Handedness: Right


Bio: Doughty is a Canadian defenceman who was selected second overall by the Kings in the 2008 Draft. Doughty made his NHL debut in 2008 as an 18-year-old and was named to the All-Rookie Team. He is a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Kings, a two-time Olympic gold medallist with the Canadian national team, and a Norris Trophy finalist.

Jeff Carter

#77 | 6′ 4″ | 215 lb | Age: 31

Born: January 1, 1985
Birthplace: London, ON, CAN
Position: C
Handedness: Right


Carter began his hockey career playing in the Ontario Hockey League in Canada before joining the AHL and playing for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was then traded to the Colombus Blue jackets before joining the LA Kings in 2012, where he has since won two Stanley Cups with the Kings.

Jonathan Quick

#32 | 6′ 1″ | 218 lb | Age: 30

Born: January 21, 1986
Birthplace: Milford, CT, USA
Position: G
Handedness: Left


Bio: Quick is the current goaltender for the LA Kings and was selected by Los Angeles at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Previously, Quick was a silver medalist with USA at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He’s won two Stanley Cup championships with the Kings, along with being the most recent goaltender to be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs.