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Kings GM: Willie Mitchell could miss next season

by Curtis Zupke /

Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi raised the possibility Wednesday that defenseman Willie Mitchell could miss next season because of ongoing issues with his knee.

Lombardi confirmed Mitchell is out for this season but said some preliminary signs give him concern about the veteran's future. The Kings acquired veteran defenseman Robyn Regehr from the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

"Now I'm getting some information, and I don't like speaking to it because I don't have it all, but I guess it's safe to say there would be a legitimate concern whether he plays next year," Lombardi said. "But that could be premature. Let's just say now, though, it's possible, where I wouldn't have thought it possible."

Mitchell underwent surgery to clean up cartilage in early December, an injury largely due to overuse. He missed training camp and was presumably shut down from on-ice activity. Lombardi said last month that Mitchell was receiving platelet-rich plasma therapy on the knee. This week Mitchell's agent told the Los Angeles Times that Mitchell had a second surgery to clean up debris.

Lombardi cautioned that "until I get the whole story, I probably should hold off" commenting further on Mitchell, who turns 36 this month.

"In terms of his career, that's what I think we have to figure out now where he is health-wise, in terms of his career," Lombardi said. " … I think we're going to have the discussion this week with all the doctors and Willie and try and sort through this thing ... the first issue is to see where we are, in terms of him playing again, then we can decide what to do, obviously, if he's going to come back, right? But I'm not sure how viable that is based upon my preliminary stuff. But, again, I'll know more on that by the end of the week."

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