John Mitchell has always prided himself in being “a pretty fast skater” and proved it when he won a fastest skater competition with the Toronto Maple Leafs three years ago.
“I think I actually beat the time in the NHL All-Star Game, so I know I can skate,” Mitchell recalled Wednesday night after his first NHL action with the New York Rangers in a 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils in the preseason opener at the Pepsi Center in Albany, N.Y.
Mitchell was one of the first players used in all situations and also leveled Cam Janssen, one of the Devils tough guys, as he continued to center a line with pesky veteran Sean Avery and fuzzy-faced J.T. Miller, the Rangers’ first-round pick (15th overall) in June. The trio was cited as “probably our most effective line, as far as forechecking and having some offensive zone pressure” by Rangers coach John Tortorella, who watched in the upper deck with president and general manager Glen Sather and other team executives while assistant GM/assistant coach/Connecticut Whale GM Jim Schoenfeld ran the bench with assistant coach Mike Sullivan.