LOS ANGELES –
The Los Angeles chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA) today announced that Willie Mitchell
is the Kings’ nominee for the 2011 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The Masterton Trophy is awarded annually by the PHWA to honor the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who exhibited qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to ice hockey before he died on January 15, 1968, as the result of an on-ice injury.
The Los Angeles PHWA chapter provided the following on Mitchell, who is in his first season with the Kings:
Mitchell missed a good chunk of last season after suffering a concussion that could have ended his career. He went through a difficult time physically and emotionally. At times, he retreated to a remote cabin he owns to get away from the noise and lights that aggravated his concussion symptoms. He wondered for a long time whether he would be able to resume his career.
Mitchell, 33, wasn't medically cleared to return until late summer and the Kings took a chance by signing him for two years in hopes he would bring experience and physicality to a generally young defense. He has provided a veteran's voice and leadership in the locker room and has been a strong and steady defense partner for Drew Doughty most of the season and, more recently, for Jack Johnson.
Mitchell kills penalties well -- the Kings are among the NHL's top penalty-killing teams -- and he’s is averaging 21:51 ice time this season, third on the Kings behind Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson -- who are much younger than he is. He also has scored a career-high five goals this season despite two injuries that cost him 25 games.
In addition, Mitchell has been an eloquent interview subject whenever asked about concussions and their terrible effects. He has had a difficult journey but has made it back to play at a high level and help lead the defense-oriented Kings back to the playoffs.