Unlike his previous trips to Washington for rookie camp, Garrett Mitchell won’t be returning home to Regina, Saskatchewan, this fall. In the midst of his third rookie camp, Mitchell is set to turn pro and hopes to earn a spot in Hershey, where some of his most significant adjustments may come off the ice.
“I think the biggest thing is I've never lived away from home,” said Mitchell, who grew up and played his junior hockey in Regina. “I went to Hershey two years ago, I didn't know how to do laundry – how much soap to put in. But just small things. I'm a pretty good cook, so I can cook. I'm not too worried about it; I think it's just something I can go and play it by ear.”
Mitchell has since learned how to do laundry, and over the course of three consecutive rookie camps, the 20-year-old forward has become comfortable with the systems and style of play that the Capitals and Bears use.
Even though he’s familiar with these camps and the NHL and AHL coaching staffs, Mitchell remains inquisitive and eager to pick up the nuances of how he will be expected to play as a pro.
“He asks questions, but it’s not like the student who asks questions because he wants the teacher to think he’s interested,” said Boudreau, who acknowledged that Mitchell has the same type of infectious, energetic personality as forward Matt Hendricks. “He asks questions to learn, and he gets it and takes the answers and applies it to the next drill. It’s not hard to like a person like that.”
Mitchell is also known for his willingness to drop the gloves in defense of a teammate, regardless of how daunting the foe might be. On Thursday, when the rookies have the chance to play against an unfriendly opponent in the form of the Flyers’ prospects, it’s possible he could display that side of his game as well.
Mitchell’s feistiness and ability to fight is also something Boudreau respects.
“I know how tough it is, because I didn’t do it. Scared to death to fight when I played, for 17 years,” Boudreau said. “Those guys that do it, you have more respect for. When you’re a smaller guy and you do it against bigger guys with no fear, it’s an awful tough job. The people that haven’t played have no idea how tough that is.”