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Mitchell is a Name Worth Remembering!
Posted By: WingNut10100101010101
4/30/2009
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John Mitchell is such a good kid. First, we are lucky to have him as a part of Michigan sports as he came to play for the Plymouth Whalers while he attended High School. That's where he met my cousin and after dating for 7 years, made her his wife. Because of this and the great relationship he formed with his host family, I am proud to write that he considers Michigan his second home.

After finishing High School, we were excited when John (from Waterloo, Ontario) was drafted by his own Toronto Maple Leafs. He spent two year gearing up for the big leagues, playing for the Toronto Marleys; and was given his shot this year under Ron Wilson.

You can't understand our excitement, when John earned player of the game, already, with an amazing game against The Rangers. They were at home and trailing 2-0 in the third period. Big John took a (weak) penalty, but with ten minutes left got out of the box to steal the puck and score his first NHL goal - sparking the 20,000 faithful and the the rest of the team. Soon after, the Leafs added another two goals to take the lead. The momentum was incredible took another wrist shot from the same left side and got his second goal of the season. The crowd was going wild and it was so beautifully strange that they were going wild for the newest member of the family. Just to cap it all off, at the end of the game John stole the puck, had a break away. The goalie came out of the crease and lost his balance, right as John's stride also got the best of him; but having the presence to pass the puck back to a following Leaf and getting an assist on the fifth goal in ten minutes!

Everyone was going crazy. Don Cherry was loving John, complimenting him on not wearing a visor and questioning the previous coach for not pulling John up quicker. Everybody was cheering for John when he came into the locker room and the smile on his face was as big as when he scored his goals. What a game!

John was recently in town to play the LA Kings and we had a great conversation over dinner. I asked him about playing against Boston's monster defenseman, Chara. I was rolling in my seat as John explained, "I was so surprised because when we were in the corner together he said, 'You better watch out Mitchell!' Not only could I not believe he knew my name, but he threatened me in perfect English!"

I asked John about playing with guys from all around the world. Do you learn bits and pieces of other languages? Are there translators in the locker rooms for the coaches? "No. On the ice, everybody has a nickname that you use to get their attention and then there are the universal commands like "spot up" and "drop the puck." If the coaches need to make a point to a rookie that doesn't speak very good English, there is usually a veteran that can help him out. Besides that, we really only learn how to curse in different languages.

We talked about his first game of his NHL career, against the Wings in Detroit, to come away with a win when everything was stacked against them. I thought at the time of the game, the game was a lose / lose. I wanted John to do well, but I love the Wings. But, really the game was a win / win. The Detroit Red Wings are a great organization, so much so, that playing them helps players and fans on all sides of the ice - that's amazing.

I didn't want to talk about the Wings too much, but John did give some praise when Datsyuk's name was mentioned, "That guy's just sneaky! You don't hear him. You don't see him. He just comes up from behind you and takes the puck before you know what happened!"

He talked about the workouts and conditioning and how they will even workout after the game. I didn't realize, but it made sense. If you don't play a whole lot, it's good to work your body like you played the whole game. Of course, he said they also have a cooler of beer waiting back in the showers and steam room. I asked if it was full of Molson and was laughing when he answered, "No - Coors Light."

Oh, and something else John said all on his own, "If I wasn't playing for the Leafs, I'd love to play for the Wings!"
Breakin' Through on the Sabres
Jeff and Big John
Kim, John and I at Magnolia in Hollywood
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Welcome to urMIsports! We are dedicated to capturing everything the Fans want to remember about Michigan sports. What's important to us are the stories we all talk about when we get together, the photos you have in UR photo albums that should be part of this great history, the interview questions that aren't being asked of UR heroes.

Community and In-house selections will then be included in a commemorative edition Michigan Sports Fan book. UR stories and memories are as important as any, so believe in that, be proud of that and contribute. Have fun and thanks again!
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