Willie Mitchell behind in rehab after knee surgery, Darryl Sutter reveals

Willie Mitchell underwent knee surgery, but is farther behind in his rehabilitation and recovery than the Kings expected, coach Darryl Sutter revealed for the first time Monday. Mitchell, a veteran defenseman who was a vital cog in the Kings’ run to the Stanley Cup, declined comment.

“With Mitchell, he had knee surgery and he’s way behind what he should have been,” Sutter said after the first of two workouts Monday. “He should have been a couple of weeks and now he’s already almost seven. And so that’s thrown out of whack.”

The Kings don’t expect Mitchell to be sound enough to play in the lockout-delayed opener Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Blackhawks. Sutter didn’t elaborate on Mitchell’s surgery or say which knee was impacted. The team said last week only that Mitchell tweaked his knee.

Mitchell had five goals and 24 points in 76 regular-season games for the Kings in 2011-12, and one goal and three points in 20 playoff games, when he averaged 25 minutes, 19 seconds on the ice. He averaged 22:14 during the regular season.

Through a team spokesman, Mitchell said he would talk to reporters only after he returns to the ice for workouts. There is no timetable for him to return to practice.

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