Mitchell suffered a Grade 2 concussion Jan. 16 on a hit by Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin. He didn't get on the ice during a game again, forced to miss the rest of the season and all 12 Vancouver playoff games because he never stopped experiencing symptoms.
As the Canuck players met one last time and cleaned out their lockers at GM Place Thursday, Mitchell had some choice words for the NHL and disciplinary czar Colin Campbell.
For those who forgot about Malkin's hit on Mitchell, here is the video.
Clearly a borderline hit, at best. You'll be shocked to learn that Malkin wasn't suspended. Mitchell took Campbell and the league to task over what he says are personal biases that exist.
"I know Colin Campbell has a lot of relationships with general managers and owners and stuff like that," Mitchell said. "It's very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you're friends with people.Mitchell was still emotional about the hit that took him out, and he feels the league should have disciplined Malkin.
"It's like saying I have to discipline my teammates. It's too emotional. You can't always make the right decision."
"I am disappointed in the league, I'm disappointed in Colin Campbell," Mitchell said. "I am disappointed he didn't rule down anything on the play. That's his job. As we've seen, he's been very inconsistent in how he's handled himself in those situations. I think a lot of times he hands down suspensions and fines on results.Mitchell might be reaching a bit by referencing death on the ice, but it's clear that there is a rift between the league and at least some players. There's little doubt others feel similar to Mitchell, and it's also obvious that there is frustration among the NHL's fans over the league's disciplinary system.
"I think that's the wrong thing to do.
... "The players have called for it where we want him to be more 'aggressive' you could say in these matters.
"What's it going to take? Someone hit from the behind where they are left lying on the ice dead? I hope not."
The NHL does not typically comment on decisions not to issue supplemental discipline. As you might be able to understand, the league would be left so busy responding to those queries that they wouldn't have time to deal with actual discipline and other pressing issues. However, this policy doesn't suit the league in a situation like this.
Malkin's hit was clearly illegal. It came relatively late in a game the Penguins were being blown out in. If Daniel Carcillo hits a player in the same manner, there are zealots trying to get him kicked out of the league. There's no way Campbell doesn't issue a three- or four-game suspension.
Instead, Malkin doesn't even get fined. Not only should Campbell speak out as to the reasons behind his decision, but he should be required by his bosses to do so.
That's just one major change in the league's policy that is absolutely necessary. We've reached a point where it's prudent for the league to pick and choose incidents to comment on, even if there is no supplemental discipline. If the league doesn't issue comment, we know it wasn't deemed to be a big deal.
As for Mitchell, missing a few months of the season is not exactly a good way to go into unrestricted free agency. There's bound to be some frustration over his health (he's still not 100 percent). In the end, however, he deserves some credit for his willingness to speak candidly.