John Mitchell: Avalanche Player Profile


Center John Mitchell came to the Colorado Avalanche as an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2012. Mitchell was a marginal role player with the New York Rangers the previous season. With the Avalanche, Mitchell has seemed to find his niche, as the Avs’ third line center and go-to when they need a top-six fill-in. He’s also become an important character in the lineup.

John Mitchell, the Early Years

Napolean Bonaparte had his Waterloo, and so did John Mitchell. Mitchell’s is a mite more pleasant, though — Waterloo, Ontario, is his hometown. Mitchell played for the Waterloo Wolves in the minors.

John Mitchell got selected 19th overall by the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL in 2001. He played for four seasons with the Plymouth Whalers, and he started racking up some good numbers, with two 20+ goal seasons and 70+ points. His final year he even serves as captain of the team.

Mitchell got selected in the fifth round in 2003 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In fact, getting drafted is Mitchell’s favorite hockey story. While the experience of getting drafted is itself “very cool,” John has a special memory from that day specifically — he got to meet the Great One. Mitchell related his experience with Adam Steinberg on the Avalanche website:

"“Each team had a private box and I went up to the Toronto Maple Leafs box, and my parents came up there as well. We were all hanging out and they had food up there and such and my mom was hanging out in the room and two suites down was the Phoenix Coyotes and Wayne Gretzky was just standing there. My mom was screaming at him and trying to wave him down so he looked at her and she asked for us to get a picture with him. He said yes and he is such a class act. He told us to come over and I was able to get a photo with him along with my family so that was pretty special.”"

He didn’t join the team until the 2005-06 season, at which time he spent three seasons with their AHL-affiliate Toronto Marlies. In his final full season with the Marlies, Mitchell recorded a 50-point season.

In the 2008-09 season, Mitchell entered the NHL for the first time, playing for the Maple Leafs in 76 games. He had a respectable 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points.

John Mitchell and the Avalanche

Normally I would spend some time talking about Mitchell’s career with the Leafs and Rangers. However, John Mitchell has has so many noteworthy times with the Avalanche. Unfortunately, a lot of them were related to injuries, but thus far he keeps coming back intact.

There was that scary time in the March, 2014, when the Colorado Avalanche were playing in Montreal. Mitchell when sliding at speed across the ice and hit the boards back-first. It was one of those plays in which he couldn’t stop or cushion himself — he just flew into the boards with such force that his shins were about an inch from his nose.

Luckily, John Mitchell missed only a few games, and he was good-natured about the injury from the get-go:

On a lighter note, John Mitchell’s Ice Bucket Challenge from last season was memorable. He just happened to be having yard work done at his home, there was heavy equipment available, so this happened:

Thanks @jamiemcginn11 #ALSIceBucketChallenge I challenge @martyarmy22 @jordyschaus @TheMushyHamster & @MiaLMitchell from John Mitchell on Vimeo.

Boys and their toys.

We’re all fans of John Mitchell’s grit. Personally, I love how it comes out in defense of his teammates, such as that time Winnipeg Jets behemoth Dustin Byfuglien made tenderloin out of Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie, and it was Mitchell who skated in to take on the much-larger Byfuglien. Mitchell makes a habit of going hard against the Minnesota Wild, too, of which I highly approve.

However, John Mitchell was especially gritty when it came to taking a puck to the face. This is a somewhat common occurrence in hockey, of course, and players typically gut it out. There’s gutting it out, though, and making the most of still being on the ice.

In a 2013 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Mitchell caught an errant puck that skated across his nose and over his forehead, damaging both. He was bleeding profusely, and by his own admission “not feeling too good.” In case you’re wondering what that looks like, see here.

In fact, Mitchell says his first thoughts were “Can I see out of both of my eyes?” He added:

"“Once I could open both of my eyes and see the blood pouring out of my head, I knew I had survived and I just needed to get off the ice as quickly as I could to get patched up.”"

It took a little while to get Mitchell stitched up because frozen rubber can do a surprising amount of damage to flesh. However, Mitchell returned to the game.

John Mitchell not only returned to the game, he scored a goal. He said of the experience:

"“I’m not just going to come back and try and go through the motions or whatever. I’m going to come back and try and help the team win. For me to come back and score that goal, it was such a great feeling because I felt so bad 45 minutes before that from being hit in the face by the puck. It certainly brightened my day to be able to score.”"

In other words, thank you, adrenaline, for making me forget how badly my face hurts.

Here are John Mitchell’s heroics:

And then there are his yearly Movember contributions… (See featured image for last year’s.)

John Mitchell has become an important part of the team.  Last year Mitchell signed a contract extension with the Colorado Avalanche, so we’ve got him through the 2016-17 season. Personally, I’m glad we’ll have the gritty, affable center for awhile yet.

Next: Player Profile on Freddie Hamilton

Next: Player Profile on Daniel Briere

Next: Player Profile on Reto Berra

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