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Kings optimistic about Willie Mitchell; rookie camps open Thursday

September 04, 2013|By Helene Elliott
  • Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed all of last season because of knee problems, is expected to be ready to play when the team opens training camp next week.
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed all of last season because… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed all of last season because of knee problems, is expected to be ready when the team opens training camp next week in El Segundo. Players are scheduled to report for physicals Sept. 11 and take to the ice the following day.

“At this point everything has been positive -- as of today he will be ready for camp,” Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said Wednesday via email.

Mitchell, a veteran with an imposing physical presence, was sorely missed last season. Lombardi did well to compensate by acquiring Robyn Regehr, a strong defensive player, but losing Rob Scuderi to free agency this summer created a huge hole that should be filled if Mitchell is fit.

The Kings have issued a training camp invitation to goaltender Mathieu Garon, a former King who became a free agent after playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. It’s a depth move, likely made because goalie Martin Jones, who played 56 regular-season games and four playoff games last season for Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League, is a restricted free agent and remains unsigned. Ben Scrivens, acquired by the Kings from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Jonathan
Bernier trade, was expected to compete for the backup job with Jones and  J.F. Berube, who spent most of last season with the Ontario Reign of the ECHL.

The invitation to Garon was first reported by @mayorsmanor.

Before the main camp begins the Kings and Ducks will each hold rookie camps, and those will start on Thursday. Their respective rookie teams will face each other on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim and on Monday at the Toyota Sports Center in El Segundo. The start time is 6 p.m. for each game. There’s no charge for admission or parking at the Honda Center, and an autograph session will follow the game. There will be a $5 charge for the game at El Segundo, to benefit the L.A. Junior Kings.

The Kings’ rookies will practice at 10 a.m. in El Segundo on Thursday and Friday, with each session open to the public. A game-day skate will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, with an 11 a.m. practice scheduled for Sunday and another 9:30 a.m. game-day skate scheduled for Monday. The final on-ice practice is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

The Ducks’ rookies are scheduled to practice Thursday from 11 a.m to noon and again from 12:30 to 1 p.m., and on Friday from 9:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. There’s no practice scheduled for the game days. A time for Sunday’s session is to be determined.


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