Willie Mitchell's Inbox
A core part of the Vancouver Canucks' solid blueline, Willie Mitchell recently scored his first goal of the season, and is on pace to surpass his career high points total. The Port McNeill native and newly appointed assistant captain answers the questions that fans want to know.
Do you have a favourite team to play against? Why? (Tracy, Langley, BC)
Yeah, I like playing against Calgary. I like playing against Jarome Iginla, he's an exceptional player and I find that usually when I play against Calgary, and play against him, it raises the level of my game, so I enjoy playing against them.
The team seems to be more confident this season, do you think that is a result of the changes in the off-season? (Steve, Anmore, BC)
I don't know, that's a tough question to answer, because a lot of good friends of ours left and it would kind of be slagging them, you know? I just think that the freshness of change has kind of brought some excitement to the team from top down.
Good people were here before, it's just that change sometimes motivates people and it's allowed young guys to kind of get into more leadership roles and kind of be a big part of the team. It's kind of allowed their confidence to blossom so to speak. So I think that maybe before they were just respectful of the people who were here and what they've done and continue to do in their careers, but now that they've moved on it has allowed them to kind of expand their reach and that's given us a lot of life and energy.
If you weren't a hockey player what sport would you want to play? (Carl, Vancouver, BC)
Probably baseball. I like baseball, I think that'd be fun. I'd love to be the back catcher in baseball and just call the game. I think I'd enjoy that.
Is there a piece of advice that you would pass on to young hockey players? (Ryan, Port Moody, BC)
Have fun, just have fun. It kind of consumes you, like if you do things as a kid, if you row or you play hockey or basketball or soccer and you really, really enjoy it, it actually just kind of consumes you. It kind of takes control and you just say 'Okay I'm just going to work hard and do this.' So, just have fun and play lots of sports. If they're playing hockey and that's kind of their passion, their sport that they enjoy to do, continue to do it, and continue to have fun and it'll work out like it's supposed to.
Besides hockey what is your favourite sport to watch? (Erika, London, ON)
My favourite sport to watch besides hockey... I love watching baseball live, that's probably one of my favourite things to do. I find it very relaxing in the off-season. I'm really into MMA, mixed martial arts and stuff like that right now. I enjoy that, I just find those guys are incredible athletes, their training, their preparation. I just find that fascinating so I enjoy that too.
If you could choose your dream line, who would you play with? (Matt, Abbotsford, BC)
I'd probably play with Bobby Orr on D. In goal, no disrespect to the Hall of Famers, I'll take my goaltender right now, I'll take Roberto Luongo, because he's hungry right now. He wants that first Stanley Cup, so that's why I'd take him, all those guys are accomplished. Up front I would take - oh I've got a couple buddies in the league that might get a little mad here - but I'll take Gretzky, Gordie Howe, and who do we want to play on the other wing? Just because I've got Gretzky in the middle, I'll put Bobby Hull on the other side, because he's got a good shot, so we'll get a lot of goals up there. I'd say that'd be my lines I'd want to play with.
What do you enjoy doing in the off-season? (Sarah, Vancouver, BC)
Fishing. I love fishing, everyone knows that. I love fishing, nature, going for hikes, ATVing, fly-fishing. I'm not into the hunting thing, I like nature too much, so I'm not really into killing Bambi. I do a lot of fishing, I release a lot of fish too. I'm kind of into the conservation stuff. So, I enjoy that and I spend a lot of time doing that, just going to beaches and exploring. Yeah, probably that's it, and then training, it consumes a lot of you. I like finance a little bit too, so I read books about that too.
What does it mean to play so close to your hometown? (Jordan, Burnaby, BC)
It's cool, it's really cool. It's a sense of pride, I'm representing Port McNeill where I'm from, but then on a bigger scale the Northern Island region where I grew up. I know everyone kind of follows me and watches me there. It's a sense of pride that I'm representing there and I think people enjoy the fact that someone from their hometown area is playing. Even on a bigger scale, there aren't a lot of guys from Vancouver Island playing in the NHL, so all of the Islanders we kind of stick together.
It just means a lot to do that and represent those people and then obviously play for a team that I grew up watching. I'm fortunate because it allows me to not take for granted where I'm at right now, because every day when I come to the rink I get to see people like Harold Snepsts or Dennis Kearns, or the other night it was Tony Tanti and Orland Kurtenbach and all these guys that I grew up watching. It keeps me grounded as far as what I'm doing and so I'm still kind of living my dream. I think that allows me to enjoy what I do and hopefully do it well. Kind of keeps you focused and not take it all for granted.
Do you have any pets? (Jason, New Westminister, BC)
I have a dog, Pinot. Pinot Noir seems to be a staple for my wife and I for an everyday, drinkable wine. It was just kind of random, we didn't plan on getting him, my wife wasn't a big dog lover at the time. I am and luckily enough I convinced her. He's a Beagle Cavalier King Charles cross, so it's a spaniel cross and he's like a smaller dog, he's about 18 pounds, but he's kind of got a big dog look to him. So it was kind of a good compromise, because my wife wanted a Golden Retriever, which wouldn't do well in a Vancouver condo and I didn't want a really small dog, because I'm a guy.