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Chatting With Willie

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
As he's done throughout the summer, Willie Mitchell's been checking in with Rick Ball on the Team 1040 talking about almost anything. 

He's excited about the prospect of the Canucks most recent acquisition of Aaron Miller and the three year extension of Kevin Bieksa. Willie weighs in on the potential of the back end that will likely be there for a couple more years.

It is the summer so it's not all serious work.  While he's working hard preparing for training camp, he fits in time to have some fun on the 4th of July.

Listen to the full interview.

What do you think of the two signings this past week?

I think they're fantastic.  I think, obviously [our] goaltending is exceptional, we all know that, who we have back there, and I said last year that I think we have one of the best defence cores in the league and maybe I'm a bit biased because I'm a guy back there on it but I do think we've got a great mix of players.  

To get Kevin [Bieksa] back in for basically four more years and we've got most of the core signed throughout the next three years and another piece of the puzzle there with [Aaron] Miller.  I think he compliments the five us who are returning from our unit and I don't know what the coaches will do but I think that Aaron's the perfect guy back there to compliment maybe Lukas and be the defensive guy on his pairing.

Do you think you have the best or the deepest blueline in the NHL right now - at least on paper?

It's pretty hard to argue against.  We're still a pretty young blueline in standards.  I know Aaron's a little older than most of us back there with some great experiences.  I believe he's won a Cup with the Avs one year and he's got a lot of experience. 

He's been in the a league a long time and he's got some experience on the blueline.  It's a young core and Kevin's a great young player, Lukas, a great young player. I don't think that me and Mattias are too old yet, an Sami - we're locked in for a while.  

I think we all compliment each other very well and I think that's what I like about it back there.  I think we all get along very well, which I think transfers very well on the ice into great performance and great chemistry.  I think it's nice for all of us to be signed for longer period of time and hopefully we stick together but it's professional sports.

What are your thoughts on Kevin Bieksa as a player and his potential in the future?

What I respect about his game the most is the fact that he competes and that's something as a player to take a lot of pride in - that's the way I like to play my game.  I think anytime a hockey team has players that compete and battle every night, you set yourself up for a long run in the post season, a chance to win the Stanley Cup.  He competes every night, he's there every night and he's out there, he's a competitor, he's a fighter but I think the other thing is that at other times he can be very composed out there, very relaxed.  

If you talk to [Alain Vigneault], he'll say maybe a little too relaxed at certain times but he can be out there with the puck very relaxed and I think if you're very relaxed you tend to be a little more composed with the puck, you can make plays and that's why you see him being a great offensive player.

At a young age in his career, I think he's done that very well and he's going to continue to work on his game and compete to get better.  Last year was a great season but I think that his all-around game and I think he'd be the first one to tell you, he can still improve and just tells you how much potential he has.

What do the players talk about when they hear of free-agent signings?

To be honest, I don't know.  After you're signed and you're signed for a few years, you're sitting there saying, wish these guys were signing such big deals because there's only so much cap space and as a player you want to win.  To bring in certain players, it's definitely a very expensive market out there right now so it's tough to add certain pieces to the puzzle. I think as a player you say that otherwise you're saying this escrow could get real big in a hurry.

I think everyone knows that we paid 3% of our salary out and I think next year we could see that number raise, probably at least double, the way the signings are going right now.  That's part of the game, that's why we sign.  The marketplace is just like housing in Vancouver, it just keeps going up and up.  Hopefully not too quickly, hopefully it allows us as a team to get a few guys underneath our cap and add pieces of the puzzle that Dave wants.

How was spending the 4th of July in Minneapolis?

Actually we were in South Dakota, my wife spends July 4th out there.  One of her family members has a place on the lake so we flew out from Minneapolis, went out four hours to South Dakota and hung out there. 

Down in the United States, lots of fireworks flying off everywhere, a couple of diet cokes (laughs) and it was a good time.  

Are you going fishing again this week?

Yeah, I've got another fishing trip.  I'm going up to Pitt River lodge, I'm heading up with a friend of mine from the downtown Hotel Georgia development and he invited me up. We're going to do a little fishing for a few days, get up and enjoy the elements.
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