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Kings' Willie Mitchell won't hold back in his return to the ice

Defenseman Willie Mitchell, who missed last season after two knee surgeries, says he is ready to go "full steam" into training camp.

September 09, 2013

After two knee surgeries, one missed season and long months of rehabilitation, Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell is ready to plunge back into his NHL career.

"No tiptoeing into this. I've been scrimmaging with the guys, practicing, doing everything full steam and business as usual," Mitchell said Sunday during the team's Fan Fest event at Staples Center.

"I had my first procedure on my knee and everyone, including myself, was rushing to get me back and it was probably a little too much, too soon. And because of that it was a setback and I had to go back and have another procedure on my knee. There's a few different treatments I've tried and a lot of rehab and probably the proper amount of rest after you go in and do a procedure on your knee, and that's allowed me to get to the point where I am now, where I'm doing everything fine."

Players will report to the team's El Segundo training facility Wednesday for pre-training camp physicals. Mitchell said he anticipates no problems clearing that hurdle.

Mitchell, 36, was a physical force during the Kings' Stanley Cup run in 2012. The Kings compensated for his absence by trading for veteran Robyn Regehr but lost defenseman Rob Scuderi to free agency in July, making Mitchell's return crucial.

Mitchell, who spent the summer training in California, said he has talked often to General Manager Dean Lombardi, who in mid-June expressed concern that Mitchell's injury was career-threatening. Mitchell said Lombardi didn't understand the extent of the problem and that both are now excited for his return.

"Fortunately, things are going really, really well and I'm just happy to be back and play hockey," Mitchell said. "That's what I love to do. I wasn't ready to not play again."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

Twitter: @helenenothelen

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