Willie Mitchell arrived in Vancouver after signing as a free agent in 2006. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
Status: Vancouver Canucks defenseman.
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 205 pounds
DOB: April 23, 1977 In: Port McNeill, B.C.
Hockey Inspirations: "My grandfather (Les) – he played back in the day. He had a tryout with the Rangers back in the Original Six days. I started playing hockey as a youngster through my father. His love for the game of hockey kind of passed down to me. He'd be my inspiration a little bit."
Nicknames: "Mitch, Nitz, Lips, Willie - because I'm technically named William. And I think that's it for now (laughs). (Nitz - is that from the Jerky Boys?) Yeah, it was in junior hockey at the time; I was playing in Saskatchewan. Everyone would come over a couple nights a week to watch TV at my place. And one of the guys said, “See you later Nitz,” because the Jerky Boys were in then. Just kind of stuck for a while."
Hobbies/Leisure Activities: "I fish on the ocean all the time. Saltwater fish, freshwater fly-fishing. Hiking. Biking. And then I like trading stocks, too."
Favorite Movies: "I'm a movie buff, too...Shawshank Redemption. That's the only one that's sticking out for me right now."
Favorite TV Shows: "I don't watch TV, but my wife makes me watch Dancing With The Stars."
Musical Tastes: "U2 - all of it."
Last Book Read: "Unconventional Success (by David F. Swensen)"
First Hockey Memory: "Peewee hockey, provincial championships in British Columbia – for Peewee double–A. That was kind of a big deal. (Where did you win it?) Salmon Arm."
First Job: "A pressure washer in a logging company. It was grease and gear dope all over my face."
Favorite Website: "That's a good one. I like Reuters; I like Stockhouse. Other than that, TSN.ca – I check out sports on there."
Current Car: "Toyota Prius (black)."
First Car: "First car I bought in minor hockey in 1998-99 was a Dodge Durango. First car I drove was my parents' '86 Honda Accord."
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: "Don't eat it."
Pre-Game Feeling: "Enjoying it, enjoying what I do. That's kind of my mindset; just have fun and just play hockey."
Greatest Sports Moment: "My first game, Hockey Night In Canada, Toronto. It was my first professional game. I was with New Jersey at the time. That's probably my best. We were kind of tied in conference finals when I was with the Wild. That was pretty cool. too."
Most Painful Moment: "Getting sent to the minors for the first time. When you're young you think you're just going to get there that easy. Getting sent to the minors the first time was probably one of the most painful moments."
Most Memorable Goal: "First one – first pro goal is always special. Because you're not just in the NHL; you kind of think you're contributing. (Against who?) Vancouver Canucks." (smiles)
Closest NHL Friends: "Outside of this team - Andrew Brunette, Nick Schultz in Minnesota. Erik Cole in Edmonton. And if I'm forgetting anyone; sorry boys." (laughs)
Funniest Players Encountered: "First year I played with Ken Daneyko in New Jersey Devils. One of the funniest ever. Just a character. Even Billy Guerin, I played with him in Dallas a little bit. Two funny guys."
Toughest Competitors: "Oh geez...a lot of those guys when I first started in the league. Scott Stevens – just tough as they come – how he played the game. Ken Daneyko. Those guys stick out in my mind, for me."
Embarrassing Hockey Memory: "My worst was a game in Buffalo when I was with the New Jersey Devils. I was a rookie. I think I was minus-two or minus-three; a couple of times I fell on the ice. One time I fell on the opposing blue line, they went down the other way and scored."
Funny Hockey Memory: "I haven't had anything too bad happen to me, knock on wood – it could happen tomorrow (laughs). Oh, I got one funny memory I guess. He was actually a really good coach for me, the late John Cunniff. In Albany, N.Y., when I was up and down with New Jersey in the minors. He was always up for something interesting. It was actually the first time in a locker room in my pro career where I actually saw a coach go after a player in the dressing room. He was a pretty intense guy. So I saw him go after a player - he was actually from South Boston – real tough guy. So he started walking away and we all thought it was the end of it. And he pulled the old, quick, tight turn and went back after him all over again. And all of us players had to get in the middle of it. So that was a pretty fun, exciting moment. And it was just the intensity that he approached the game. That's all that's coming to me right now. So that's all you get, I apologize." (smiles)
Favorite Players To Watch: "In the game now, I’m a big Ovechkin fan – love watching him every time he touches the puck. He's super, super exciting. Marian Gaborik of Minnesota – when he's healthy – he's an exciting player. And just two guys that I like to watch and try and learn little things from about the game: There's Nik Lidstrom and then I like Sergei Zubov in Dallas, too. I just watch them and see little things they do and try and learn off those guys."
Last Vacation: "That was New York City - MLB All-Star Game."
People Qualities Most Admired: "Just people that are themselves. I’m from a small town and have that attitude of, whether they're city slickers or whatever, just to kind of be who they are. And just real loyal and trustworthy people. Those are the qualities I kind of admire in people, the one’s who have good spirits, who are really positive people. It rubs off."
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