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Willie Mitchell has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, having dealt with a concussion and ongoing knee problems. Mitchell hasn't played a full season since 2008-09 with the Vancouver Canucks, and he missed the entire lockout-shortened 2013 season because of his knee.
The rugged 36-year-old veteran could have called it quits, and his last NHL game would have been Game 6 of the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Final, where he and his L.A. teammates hoisted the Cup. Instead he's back for more.
According to Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times, there was no inflammation in Mitchell's knee after a very intense first day of training camp.
If he can stay healthy for the remainder of the season and playoffs, Mitchell could have a big impact playing on L.A.'s second pairing and on the penalty kill. The Kings managed to get to the conference finals without him, but in an 82-game season and potentially another long playoff run, Mitchell would be a major asset.
Even at his age, he can still be one of the Kings' top players in the defensive zone. Look for Mitchell's ice time to be limited early on, but to increase as the season progresses.