Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell against the Phoenix Coyotes last February. (Paul Connors / Associated…)
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell suffered a setback during his recovery from knee surgery during the lockout, pushing too hard too soon, according to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi.
But the fact that Mitchell had knee surgery came as a surprise on Monday, the second day of the Kings' training camp. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter mentioned it, almost offhandedly, in the context of rehabilitation timetables.
"Now with Mitchell, he had knee surgery," Sutter said. "He's way behind what he should have been. He should have been a couple of weeks. Now he's already almost seven.
"So that's thrown out of whack."
Mitchell, a veteran presence during the run to the Stanley Cup, has not been on the ice for the Kings' first two sessions of this abbreviated training. There is no word when he will return and he declined, through a team spokesperson, to meet with reporters.
Lombardi, during a brief conversation Monday, said that the injury to Mitchell's knee was not a ligament issue but was to remove some cartilage.
The Kings did receive some positive news on the injury front. Center Anze 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. I'm sure if you skate normal, straightforward, even at the higher speed. I don't think there's going to be any pain there.
"...There's a little bit discomfort. But to be honest I thought it would be a little worse than it was."
In Kopitar's absence, Jeff Carter has been moved to center. In the first two sessions of camp, Carter has centered Dustin Penner and Justin Williams, and Mike Richards has been centering Dustin Brown and Simon Gagne.
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