MONTREAL – As far as changes of scenery go, Torrey Mitchell couldn’t have asked for better in 2014-15.
Once a member of the College Charles-Lemoyne Riverains on Montreal’s south shore during his Midget AAA days, Mitchell never could have imagined that some 15 years later, he’d be playing for his hometown Habs.
Yet there he was suiting up at the Bell Centre for the first time as recently as March – just several kilometers from where he grew up – the latest stop on an NHL career path which has already taken him through San Jose, Minnesota, and Buffalo.
“It was great. My family and friends are here, so it was a dream come true for me to play [in Montreal]. Hopefully I’ll get that chance again next year,” acknowledged the 5-foot-11, 189-pound forward who becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1. “It was nothing but positive, I had a good experience and I’d obviously love to be back.”
Although July 1 is traditionally moving day in Quebec, the Greenfield Park, QC native would much rather keep his bags unpacked this summer. Acquired by general manager Marc Bergevin at the NHL trade deadline in an attempt to bolster the team’s defense on offense, Mitchell didn’t disappoint. And the 30-year-old center wasn’t disappointed with the move either, after making an instant jump from the bottom to near the top of the league standings.
“I’ve never been the most offensive player, so adjusting wasn’t too difficult. I’m a defensive forward and I think I performed well,” admitted Mitchell, who improved his faceoff efficiency from 47.2% to 56.9% with the Habs.
Notably used on the penalty kill, Mitchell formed a primarily defensive duo with Brandon Prust down the stretch in Montreal, spending 9.6% of his total playoff ice time alongside the veteran forward while down a man – logging the second-most ice time behind only Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty.
It was also during the playoffs that Mitchell made his biggest mark in the points column, picking up a goal and four assists over just 12 postseason games with the Habs – good for fourth among his teammates in that category, while compiling a plus-4 differential.
Not to mention finally realizing a childhood dream.
“My most memorable moment of the season was probably scoring during the playoffs,” recalled the Canadiens’ latest No. 17, who lit the lamp for the first time as a Hab during Game 1 against Ottawa at the Bell Centre. “I felt like a kid again.”
Now waiting to find out what his hockey future holds for him next, Mitchell will spend the offseason at his summer home in nearby Vermont, incidentally with a phone, also most likely nearby.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Steven Nechay.
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