Former Spitfire returns to home ice
Dale Mitchell back in Windsor after 9 games with the NHL Leafs' farm team
Toronto's loss is Windsor's gain, as a hockey player who had been playing for the farm team of the NHL's Maple Leafs returned to Windsor on Thursday night.
Dale Mitchell, 20, played nine games with the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies in the 2009-2010 season.
But on Wednesday, Marlies general manager Jeff Jackson announced Mitchell was being returned to his former team, the Ontario Hockey League's Spitfires.
The five-foot-nine, 207-pound forward registered just three points with the Marlies, with two goals and one assist, and earned two penalty minutes.
Compare that to Mitchell's stats with the Spits in a single Memorial Cup tiebreaker game against the Rimouski Oceanic on May 21: three goals in just over three minutes to propel the Spits to a 6-4 victory.
The Spits went on to the win the 2009 Memorial Cup, beating the Kelowna Rockets 4-1. Mitchell scored a goal in that game, too.
As a 2007 NHL draft pick, Mitchell acknowledges his goal "was to play for the Toronto Marlies," but also said the Marlies "had too many forwards" and he needs to play.
"It was either the East Coast [Hockey] League or here, and they felt Windsor was a better choice," he told CBC News.
"Dale's experience, energy, passion for the game and skill will be huge assets for us moving forward this season," Spits vice-president and GM Warren Rychel said in a press release.
"You can't get energy like he has out there," agreed team captan Harry Young. "He brings a whole new element to our game now."
Spits full of NHL picks
Mitchell's return means the Spits now have 10 NHL draft picks on their bench, a fact Rychel hopes will motivate players to do their best.
"[Head coach] Bob [Boughner] has told the guys that if they're not going, then he'll put someone in that is going," Rychel told CBC News. "So if a guy is having a slow first period, guess what? Someone's going to get replaced."
The Spits are ranked first in the OHL and second in the country.
They defeated the Plymouth Whalers 4-2 on Thurday night at home.