Mitchell leaves Canucks for Kings

HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

Judging by his on-ice attire Wednesday, you wouldn't have guessed Willie Mitchell was an L.A. King.

Still wearing Canucks-coloured gloves and pants and a blue Vancouver helmet with his No. 8 on the back, the defenceman skated with NHL players and prospects at UBC.

But off the ice, the 33-year-old had already signed a two-year, $7-million contract with the Kings, ending a summer of speculation.

"Nothing easy about making that decision, that's for sure," said Mitchell. "I felt like they're really interested in what I can bring to their team and they're really excited about having me down there. I felt it's just the right situation for me."

The $3.5-million annual salary was a generous one, considering Mitchell, who also earned $3.5 million last year, was limited to only 48 games with a concussion in his final season as a Canuck.

Earlier this week, the former eighth-round pick of the New Jersey Devils said he was looking for the "best fit" when it came to making a decision.

In Los Angeles, Mitchell will anchor a top four on the defensive core, which also includes Drew Doughty, Rob Scuderi, and Jack Johnson.

"They have really good young defencemen there, I like their mix," he said. "They have a lot of good things going on down there as an organization, to be honest, I really felt they were really genuinely excited to have me down there."

As for his four years with Vancouver – which ironically will be the place of his regular season debut as a King on Oct. 9 – the Port McNeill, B.C. native said it was a dream come true.

"I loved every minute of it," he said. "I grew up dreaming of playing for the Canucks and luckily for me, [former Canucks GM] Dave Nonis brought me in here and the Aquilini family had me in, and I'd like to think it was a good four years that I gave everything I had to the organization."

With the Canucks losing out on the Mitchell sweepstakes, the chances of Kevin Bieksa staying with the team rises, despite his name regularly surfacing in trade rumours.

"I'm going to miss him on this team," said Bieksa, who was also out at UBC. "I'm just happy that he's out here and playing hockey again.

“It'll be fun to be playing against him again that's for sure. He thinks he laid me out the last time we played against each other so I guess I have to get him back now."

* The Canucks signed Raffi Torres late Monday to a one-year, $1-million contract. The Toronto native split last season with Columbus and Buffalo, recording 19 goals and 17 assists over 74 games. The injury-prone left-winger's last full season came in 2006-07 with the Edmonton Oilers.


Videos

Photos