Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell against the Phoenix Coyotes last February. (Paul Connors / Associated…)
Who said training camp was boring?
So far, the Stanley Cup champion Kings have made one trade and it was revealed Monday that defenseman Willie Mitchell had knee surgery a couple of months ago, and later Anze Kopitar tested his injured knee in a brief session.
Mitchell, who suffered a setback following surgery during the lockout, pushed too hard too soon during his rehabilitation, according to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi.
Still, the fact that Mitchell had surgery came as something of a surprise. Coach Darryl Sutter mentioned it, almost off-handedly, in the context of rehabilitation for Mitchell.
"He [Mitchell] is way behind what he should have been," Sutter said. "He should have been a couple of weeks. Now he's already almost [at] seven."
Mitchell, a veteran presence during the run to the Stanley Cup, has not been on the ice with the Kings during camp. Lombardi, in a brief conversation Monday, said the injury to Mitchell's knee was not a ligament issue. The procedure was to remove some cartilage.
The Kings did receive some positive news on the injury front. Kopitar, fitted with a knee brace, skated on his own after practice for about half an hour.
"I really didn't know what to expect," Kopitar said. "It felt good. We'll see how, day by day, how I progress. I wanted to get the turns in and the crossovers … there's a little bit of discomfort. But to be honest, I thought it would be a little worse than it was."
For now, Jeff Carter has been moved to center. During the first two sessions of camp, Carter has centered Dustin Penner and Justin Williams. Newcomer Anthony Stewart, acquired Sunday from Carolina for Kevin Westgarth, made his first appearance at Kings camp. The power forward found an uncommon hockey home during the lockout, playing 19 games in Nottingham, England.
"No better team to get traded to than the Stanley Cup champions," Stewart said. "I'm not here just to be a warm body. I want to be an impact player and get in the lineup as soon as possible and show what I can do."