Willie Mitchell, an All-American defenseman for the Golden Knights in 1999, became the fifth Clarkson University Hockey alumnus to have his name etched upon the Stanley Cup when the Los Angeles King won the National Hockey League championship in 2012. Now, Mitchell will have the opportunity to raise the most coveted trophy in all of sports once again when Los Angeles plays in the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three years.
The Kings, who became the first team in NHL history to win three Game 7s en route to the final this spring, will battle the New York Rangers in the best-of-seven series beginning this Wednesday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
A veteran of 14 NHL seasons as a stay-at-home defenseman, Mitchell skated in 76 games during the 2013-14 regular season, tallying 12 points and 11 assists. He has played in 13 postseason games, recording two assists. The Port McNeill, B.C. native missed all of the 2012-13 campaign recovering from an injury.
In 2012 Mitchell joined former Clarkson classmates, Erik Cole (Carolina, 2006) and Kent Huskins '01 (Anaheim, 2007) with his name engraved upon the Stanley Cup. Former Golden Knight all-stars Colin Patterson '84 (Calgary, 1989) and Todd Marchant (Anaheim, 2007) also represent Clarkson on the Stanley Cup.
Playing at Clarkson for two seasons in the late 1990s before pursuing his professional career, Mitchell, along with Cole and Huskins, helped to lead Clarkson to a pair of 20+-win campaigns, consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament and ECAC regular season and tournament titles. In his final season at Clarkson as a sophomore in 1998-99, Mitchell scored perhaps the most dramatic goal in the Green and Gold's lengthy history when he connected from center ice at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid in the ECAC Tournament semifinal round against Princeton for the winning goal with just 2.7 seconds left in regulation for a 6-5 victory (view video). The Knights went on to defeat St. Lawrence in the championship game, 3-2. Mitchell was named the 1999 ECAC Tournament Most Outstanding Player.
Mitchell skated in 68 games for the Golden Knights, recording 55 points from the blueline on 19 goals and 36 assists. He was named ECAC Co-Rookie of the Year, along with Cole, in 1997-98 and earned First-Team ECAC All-Star honors and Second-Team Titan All-America accolades in 1998-99.
He was selected by New Jersey in the eighth round (199th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft. Mitchell began his NHL career with the Devils in the 1999-2000 campaign, and played 18 games in New Jersey before being traded to Minnesota on March 4, 2001. He played parts of five seasons for the Wild from 2001-2006 before a trade to Dallas on March 9, 2006. Mitchell was signed as a free agent by Vancouver on July 1, 2006 and joined the LA organization as an unrestricted free agent on August 25, 2010.
He has played in 795 NHL regular season games, accumulating 165 points on 30 goals and 135 assists, along with 744 penalty minutes. Through 84 postseason games, he has recorded 14 points (3-11) and 82 penalty minutes.