What's So Good About Willie?
This week, Canucks fans and the rest of the hockey fans paying attention should have a better clue as to where defenseman Willie Mitchell will play hockey next season. Willie Mitchell is born and raised in Port McNeill across the Georgia Strait on Vancouver Island. Being a long-time Vancouver Canucks fan, growing up loving hockey, Willie Mitchell was very pleased to join the Canucks back on July 1, 2006. General Manager at the time, Dave Nonis, was probably more pleased to sign Mitchell than Mitchell himself joining the hockey club, as Vancouver has had countless nightmares of Mitchell absolutely shutting down their offensive stars. That list included 2003 playoffs where Mitchell shadowed a red hot Todd Bertuzzi coming off a stellar 97 point season. The Wild went on to pass the Canucks on to the next round of playoffs.
To give you some numbers, Mitchell was signed to a 4-year deal worth 14 million dollars at the time averaging $3.5mil a year, quite a bargain for a serviceable top-4 defenseman today. In his 4-years with the Canucks, he has put up consistent stats, with steady incline:
22-23 minute time-on-ice annually.
+49 in +/- rating, all +'s each year.
58 points in 262 games, despite being the shutdown D.
Block shot leader on the team, 434 in 4 year span.
At 33 years of age, and post-concussion, teams around the league wonder about how much gas remains in Willie's tank. There are reports that Mitchell has regained his health.
If I am the Vancouver Canucks General Manager, I would undoubtedly re-sign Mitchell for 3 or 4 more seasons, just so my goalie Roberto and I can sleep well at night.
Thank you for reading.
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