John Mitchell hated — simply hated — doing it as a kid. But he admits now all those power skating lessons were worth it.
And not just because the 24-year-old rookie was crowned the fastest skater on the Maple Leafs yesterday at the team’s skills competition.
“I went power skating every year when I was a kid,” Mitchell said. “I never wanted to do it. But it’s a skill. If you can’t skate, you can’t play.”
Jason Blake was the first of six skaters, and did a lap around the Air Canada Centre in 13.876 seconds. It held through laps by Mikhail Grabovski, Dominic Moore and Jamal Mayers until Mitchell broke through with 13.848, a difference of a blink of an eye. Nikolai Kulemin was the last skater.
“Those guys are pretty fast, but knew I could skate pretty quick,” Mitchell said. “I knew I could compete with the best of them. I think I proved it.”
Mitchell has just about everything scouts look for in a player. Impressive size at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds. A decent shot with an ability to score. And, of course, speed.
But he doesn’t always use his attributes at the same time. Part of that goes hand-in-hand with being a rookie.
“The more you play, the more offensive chances you’re going to get,” Mitchell said. “The more opportunities I get, I have to prove to them I can put up numbers and help the team win.”
• Fastest skater (once around rink): John Mitchell, 13.848 seconds
• Hardest shot: Pavel Kubina, 103.8 mph
• Judged shootout: Jason Blake
• Shooting accuracy: Kubina (4-for-6)
• Survivor shootout: Alexei Ponikarovsky (3-for-3)
Open to waiving
Leaf defenceman Pavel Kubina said yesterday he’s willing to waive his no-trade clause, but would rather stay in Toronto.