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Getting To Know: John Mitchell

by Adam Steinberg / Colorado Avalanche
John Mitchell signed a two-year contract with the Avalanche on July 1, 2012.  Mitchell, 27, appeared in 63 games for the New York Rangers last season, tallying 16 points (5g/11a) to go along with a +10 plus/minus rating.  He went on to dress in 18 of New York’s 20 playoff contests, posting one assist while winning 53.5% of his faceoffs (38-of-71).  Selected by Toronto in the fifth round (158th overall) of the 2003 Entry Draft, Mitchell has recorded 71 points (25g/46a) in 222 career games for the Maple Leafs and Rangers.  He recently sat down with during training camp.

Q: What did you do in the offseason? How did you work to stay in shape?

A: I did my normal routine, train and skate and be prepared if the season was to happen (on time). Obviously it did not but you still have to train and maintain what you have built all summer. You do those things and as it goes on, it wears on you and gets drawn out. It is kind of hard to do what you do that many months at a time so you have to scale things back a little bit and take some time off so I was up north at my cottage for the summer in Perry Sound. I was able to go up there a little longer too because of the delay in the season.

Q: Does coming from big market teams, Toronto and New York, to a smaller market team have an impact on you?

A: I don’t think so. It is what it is. This is still the NHL, the best league in the world. It doesn’t matter if you have played on the Toronto Maple Leafs or any other team, they are all the same and all in the same league so you cant take it any differently.

Q: You had a solid year in the NHL after being called up about 20 games in last season totaling 16 points and a +10 plus/minus rating. How do you think you can build on that and help the Avalanche this season?

A: I am just trying to come in and help the team out in anyway that I can. I want to be able to be strong defensively down low and help build on faceoffs. If injuries happen, I will look to get bumped up in the lineup. I was able to play on the power play last year on the Rangers and get bumped up a line. I also played down a line. I feel like I am a versatile player and can help the team out in a lot of different ways.

Q: How will it be different playing this year in the Western Conference?

A: It will obviously be a little different because there is more travel. There are time zone changes and all those sort of things. First and foremost, the elevation is a little different so it will take a little bit of time getting used to but it is still the same game, it’s still hockey.

Q: Do you think the shortened season will affect you as a player? How do you adjust differently to prepare for a short season?

A: I don’t think you really prepare for a shortened season. You don’t look at it like that. You just prepare one game at a time. Obviously we all know it is going to be a 48-game season and then hopefully playoffs. We don’t want to look to far and get ahead of ourselves. You just need to prepare yourself like it is an 82-game season. Just because it is 48 does not mean it is any different. You still have to prepare and be ready to go every single night.

Q: What is your favorite hockey story?

A: Just being drafted. Getting drafted is very cool and playing in your first NHL game is awesome. One thing that sticks out in my mind is when I got drafted and we were in Nashville. Each team had a private box and I went up to the Toronto Maple Leafs box, and my parents came up there as well. We were all hanging out and they had food up there and such and my mom was hanging out in the room and two suites down was the Phoenix Coyotes and Wayne Gretzky was just standing there. My mom was screaming at him and trying to wave him down so he looked at her and she asked for us to get a picture with him. He said yes and he is such a class act. He told us to come over and I was able to get a photo with him along with my family so that was pretty special.

Q: Who was your favorite player growing up?

A: Dougie Gilmour was my favorite player growing up. I used to wear number 93 when I was a kid and tuck my jersey in on the side.

Q: How long have you been in Denver for? What do you like about it so far?

A: I have been in Denver for not even a week, five days now. I don’t have my car here yet so I haven’t really been able to travel around yet and see it all. But just from the little that I have been driving around it seems really cool. Obviously leaving from the practice rink and driving to the city, you can see all the mountains in the background. That is something I am not accustomed to and see everyday so that is pretty neat to be able to see that.

Q: What is the next week going to be like in terms of building chemistry with the team and learning the systems of Coach Sacco?

A: That is exactly what it is. You have to pay attention and take the practices one day at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself because it is a lot of information, for myself and PA [Parenteau] and the new guys coming into the team. A lot of these guys already know the system so it is a lot to digest but you have to try and learn it as quick as you can.

Q: How did it feel to get back on the ice today? How was your first official practice with the Avs?

A: It was cool, it was nice, it was refreshing to have coaches out there and to have drills ready for us to go. Some 5-on-5 and battle drills so that was nice to have because it has been a lot of 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 and captains practices.

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