For the past four months, Willie Mitchell has kept his mouth shut.
Since suffering a concussion from a Jan. 16 hit-from-behind by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, the brooding defenceman has avoided speaking with media, not wanting to be a distraction to the team.
But following the Canucks locker room cleanout Thursday, the Port McNeill, B.C., native couldn't stay silent any longer about his injury and the lack of discipline on the questionable hit.
"I'm not happy with the hit I took," said Mitchell, who is still feeling light headaches and head pressures. "We're taught from a young age that you don't hit from behind. I had my numbers facing a player in a dangerous spot and he hit me. More than that, I'm disappointed in the league, disappointed in Colin Campbell, disappointed that he didn't rule down anything on the play. That's his job.
"What's it going to take, is it going to take someone hit from behind or someone a head shot where they're laying on the ice and dead? I hope not. I don't want to see anyone like that."
Although he has yet to personally speak with Campbell, Mitchell directed his heartfelt rant at the NHL Senior VP and principal disciplinarian's allegedly inconsistent disciplinary decisions.
"I think a lot of the times he hands down suspensions and fines on result and I totally think that's the wrong thing to do," he said. "If you rob a bank and there's $50 million in there and you rob a bank and there's $5 in there, you're going to jail for the same amount of time. He saw me get up off the ice so he didn't make any ruling on it and I want to make this very clear too, I'm not saying this is for me. What's it going to do for me right now? It's not going to do a thing for me.
“No one's going to take back the four and a half months that I've endured and my family's endured. No one is going to take that back.
“Why I'm saying this right now is because my friends in the league and my peers in the league, I don't want anyone to go through what I just did."
While Mitchell suggests the NHL and the players union needs to look at how they run the discipline in the league, he also points out that Campbell's relationship with owners and managers get in the way emotionally when making the right judgment.
"It's very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you're friends with people," he said. "Something that the league and the players need to look at is have an outside party handle the discipline in the league and therefore, it's consistent. It's common knowledge that it was very inconsistent this year.
"I'm saying this now because I want to change things moving on forward for players. This doesn't do anything for me saying this. It's about protecting my peers in the league."
For now, Mitchell says he's focused on feeling 100 per cent although he has yet to step back on the ice.
"I'm at a stage now where I've started doing a little bit of activity and that's great because you gotta be in a place when you want to do those things as well," said the pending UFA. "Number one for me is getting healthy."