EL SEGUNDO, CA — As reported by several media outlets, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell will not return this season after a second surgery on his ailing knee.
Mitchell reportedly went too hard on the knee in his rehabilitation work during the Kings’ abbreviated training camp back in January, re-injuring the knee.
Mike Liut, Mitchell’s agent, told Lisa Dillman of the Los Angeles Times that the surgery “…was designed to clean up ‘some debris’ in the knee,” and that “Mitchell ‘should be ready for next season.’”
But on April 3, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi dropped a bit of a bombshell when, as Frozen Royalty reported on Twitter just a few minutes after, he indicated that there is a possibility that Mitchell might not be able to play in the 2013-14 season.
“Willie went to see another doctor,” Lombardi noted. “I’ve got to get all the information, but one thing we do know [is that] he’s done for the year, which was always kind of hanging out there. Without going into detail, at least we got some finality in that he’s not coming back this year.”
“Now I’m getting some information, and I don’t like speaking to it because I don’t have it all, I guess it’s safe to say there would be a legitimate concern now whether he plays next year,” added Lombardi. “But that could be premature.”
Nevertheless, the concern for Mitchell’s future is not a good sign at all.
“Let’s just say it’s possible, where I wouldn’t have thought it possible—we always thought, ‘if we don’t get him this year, this isn’t serious,’” said Lombardi. “But apparently, some other things might’ve shown up. But until I get the whole story, I should probably hold off.”
“In terms of his career, that’s what we have to figure out now, where he is, health-wise,” added Lombardi. “We’re going to have a discussion this week with all the doctors and Willie, and try to sort through this thing.”
“The first issue is to see where we are, in terms of him playing again. Then we can decide what to do. Obviously, if he’s going to come back, great. But I’m not sure how viable that is, based on preliminary [reports]. But I’ll know more about that by the end of the week.”
With a year remaining on his contract, if Mitchell is unable to play next season, or worse, if the injury ends his National Hockey League career, the Kings could buy out his contract.
“With what we know now, that’s the next thing we’ve got to zero in on,” Lombardi noted.
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