When Willie Mitchell returns to Port McNeill, British Columbia, with the Stanley Cup on August 12th, the small town on the northern tip of Vancouver Island is sure to erupt in jubilation. Hard Working Willie Mitchell will finally be bringing the Cup home.
Mitchell will be honoured by the town for his role in the Los Angeles Stanley Cup victory. Mayor Gerry Furney and the Council will be awarding the honour of ‘Freeman to the Town of Port McNeill’ on Mitchell.
‘Freedom of the City, or Freedom of Entry, is an honour bestowed by some municipalities in Australia, Canada, Croatia, France, Gibraltar, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, South Africa,Spain, the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe to esteemed members of its community and to organisations to be honoured, often for service to the community; the term applies to two separate honours, one civilian and one military. Key to the City is a similar award made in several other countries, and is more prevalent in the United States.’
In historical times, the Freeman was entitled to have his cattle graze on common land. There were also several other benefits to the status. Mitchell probably doesn’t have any cattle he will need to graze on the common land in his home town, but you can bet he is honoured with the recognition. Only six other people have been granted Freeman status in Port McNeill since 1965, and only two of them are alive today. It requires a 100% vote from the Council for approval, and Mitchell was an overwhelmingly obvious choice for the honor. Not only is he now a Stanley Cup Champion, but he represents his hometown with pride and has been a revered teammate and a fan favorite wherever he has played in his hockey career.
Mitchell will also be receiving the ‘Golden Key to the Town of Port McNeill.‘
The ice rink in Port McNeill was constructed when Mitchell was a child learning how to skate. Good timing, as before that point, local hockey players had to travel elsewhere to get ice to play or practice on. Mitchell would come to the rink every day at noon with his father, and even from a young age he took his hockey seriously.
The rink Mitchell honed his skills at from a young age
Thanks to Mayor Furney’s Proclamation, August 12th, 2012 will be known in Port McNeill as Willie Mitchell Day. And if Mitchell should return home with the Cup for a second time, consideration would be given to making the proclamation a permanent one. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Kings win the Cup again in the next few years – they are returning the exact same roster that dominated the three top teams in the Western Conference before dispatching the New Jersey Devils in six games to capture the Cup.
Mitchell’s official Proclamation:
Most hockey fans in Port McNeill have switched their allegiances from the home province Canucks to the Kings because of Mitchell. Regardless of what team you choose to root for, it is hard not to be a fan of Mitchell. On the ice, he is a throwback defenseman who intimidates physically and strives to improve his craft each season. From Kings insider Rich Hammond:
“Mitchell doesn’t wear a letter on his jersey, but he’s unquestionably part of the Kings’ leadership group. It was no accident that when captain Dustin Brown got his hands on the Stanley Cup, the first person he handed it to was Mitchell. The Kings know what Mitchell has done for them, and they hope he can keep doing it.”
Off the ice, he is humble, charitable, and media-friendly. He has played a large part in the development of Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov on the Los Angeles back end. Mitchell’s passion for the sport of hockey is obvious, and all of the honours he will be receiving on August 12th will be well deserved, to say the least.