It's been a week now but the wounds still haven't fully healed. Last Sunday, the Sharks lost a member of their family in Torrey Mitchell to the Minnesota Wild with whom he signed presumably, as one of our Twitter followers pointed out, to be Chris Bosh to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter's LeBron James and Dwayne Wade. While the void in Mitchell's heart created by having to spend a full season away from his BFF Devin Setoguchi this past year has finally been filled, it's doubtful the hole in ours will ever be mended. But, painful as it may be to bring back the memories, here's our look back at Mitchell's illustrious career in teal with the ten best Torrey Mitchell moments of the past five years.
If there was one defining characteristic of Mitchell's Sharks career, it was his hilariously terrible luck. In that sense, he was a pretty good representative of the Sharks as a whole over the past five or so seasons. From falling on his ass every other shift to frequently bobbling the puck in the neutral zone to missing an entire season after careening into the net during a training camp scrimmage, Mitchell was more or less hockey's answer to Eugene from Hey Arnold! (although I guess you could make a case for Martin Havlat). One of the best examples of this came in a game against the Los Angeles Kings in November of 2010. With the teams skating 4v4, Ryan Smyth jammed the puck past Antero Niittymaki but the quick stick of Marc-Edouard Vlasic fished it out of the net before any officials noticed. Play continued for a good minute afterwards (with Kent Huskins hitting the post in the interim, just to increase the Twilight Zone-esque feel of this entire sequence) before Dan Boyle hits Mitchell with a perfect oulet pass that he buries on a partial breakaway. It would have been one of the prettier goals of Mitchell's career...if, of course, it hadn't predictably been called back after a video review discovered that Smyth had actually scored.
9. The almost-fight with Pavel Datsyuk in the 2011 Playoffs
Mitchell was a lover, not a fighter. But with his team being dominated by the Red Wings in Game 6 of their Western Conference Semifinal playoff series in 2011, Mitchell decided to take matters into his own hands and attempt to goad Mr. Lady Byng himself, Pavel Datsyuk, into dropping the gloves. The linesmen sadly ensured that wouldn't happen but he did manage to get a few blows in on the superstar center and it resulted in matching two-minute roughing penalties, still a hell of a tradeoff for San Jose.
8. The actual fights with Rene Bourque and Ryan Garbutt
Twice in his NHL career, Mitchell did end up in legitimate fisticuffs. The first came in January of 2010 during the infamous "We want 10!" game, a 9-1 laugher over Calgary. Rene Bourque isn't exactly the toughest customer but after a lengthy puck battle behind the Sharks net between him and Mitchell, the two went at it. After absorbing a few blows just to lull Bourque into a false sense of security, Mitchell caught the winger off-balance and bolted him to the ice with a right hand to the face.
His second NHL fight didn't go quite as well for Torrey, although a lot of that had to with apparently tripping over one of his own gloves.
7. The Kurtis Foster incident
The incident itself was one of the darker moments of Mitchell's career as his failure to stop up on an icing call resulted in an unexpecting Foster being checked awkwardly and painfully into the boards, breaking his leg and keeping him out of NHL action for almost 60 games over parts of two seasons. The play was significant in that it increased debate about the touch-up icing rule but it was also emblematic of Mitchell as a person that he reportedly visited Foster in the hospital shortly after the incident to apologize.
Unfortunately, that wasn't enough to appease the anger of the hockey gods as Kevin Westgarth's brother Brett tripped Torrey while he was attempting to drive the net during the aforementioned training camp scrimmage in September 2008. Mitchell crashed into the post, sustaining a leg injury that forced him to miss the entire 08-09 regular season and two playoff games.
6. Mitchell returns during the 2009 Playoffs
After a year of rehab that featured a conditioning stint in Worcester, Mitchell returned to the Sharks' lineup for Game 3 of their 2009 playoff series against the Ducks. While he didn't score in his four games back before the Sharks were eliminated (barely anyone wearing teal in that series did), he finished an impressive +12 in Corsi playing limited minutes alongside Jonathan Cheechoo and Jeremy Roenick.
5. Backing up the taco truck
After Round Table decided to stop giving out free pizza to everyone in the building every time the Sharks scored four goals at home (the bastards), Jack in the Box picked up the slack this past season with an oddly specific taco giveaway, applicable only when the Sharks score in the final two minutes of the second period. Mitchell was the first to send the San Jose faithful home with taco vouchers, scoring his first goal of the season with 1:22 remaining in the middle frame against his new team Minnesota on November 10th:
He did it again two games later, scoring his second goal of the season against the Red Wings with 1:42 remaining in the 2nd. Mitchell almost completed the taco hat trick, scoring his third goal of the season three seconds before the two-minutes-remaining mark on December 9th when the Sharks hosted Dallas. His ninth goal of the season, and final goal as a San Jose Shark, nearly qualified too as Mitchell scored against the Avs later in the year with a little over four minutes left in the second period.
4. Mitchell undresses Alex Goligoski for a dramatic tying goal
With the Sharks down by a goal in the second period and fighting for their playoff lives against the then-division leading Stars, Taco Torrey struck again. Of course, this goal was scored at the American Airlines Center which has no such promotion as far as we're aware but watching this unfold was treat enough as Mitchell turned Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski inside out before firing a backhand shot over Kari Lehtonen to tie the game with 1.5 seconds remaining in the second.
3. Securing a Game 2 win over Calgary in 2008
Although it didn't necessarily look like it on paper (especially after a cursory glance at the blueline they were icing), the 2007-08 San Jose Sharks were a really, really good team. They were second only to the legendary 08 Red Wings in possession and boasted, I shit you not, the best penalty kill in the league. Despite only being a rookie, Mitchell was a big part of that. Along with Patrick Rissmiller and Mike Grier, he played the toughest minutes among the teams' forwards, facing top competition and starting in his own end more often than not 5v5 which allowed Ron Wilson to deploy Joe Thornton and Milan Michalek in Sedin-like fashion. Mitchell was also second only to Grier in shorthanded ice time. So with the team's season potentially on the line after dropping Game 1 of their playoff series against the Flames that spring, Mitchell netted a crucial insurance goal against Miikka Kiprusoff at the tail-end of a lengthy power play, giving the Sharks a 2-0 lead they wouldn't relinquish. It was the first of Mitchell's two career playoff goals.
2. Mitchell scores on a breakaway, for real this time
After losing their first two games of the 07-08 season against the defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, the Sharks went back into Honda Center on December 16th, 2007 to face an even better Anaheim squad than they had previously, with Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer returning to the lineup after spending the better part of six months debating retirement. Mitchell's fellow (and vastly inferior) rookie forward Bobby Ryan opened the scoring for Anaheim but Mitchell responded with arguably the prettiest shorthanded goal in Sharks history, tying the game to eventually send it to a shootout that the Sharks would win.
1. Mitchell undresses the entire Vancouver Canucks team, Corey Schneider, Alain Vigneault and the ghost of Kirk McLean for a dramatic tying goal
Almost a year to the day before his highlight-reel tally against the Stars, Mitchell scored one of the greatest goals in recent Sharks history, in terms of both significance and style. Sure, Daniel Sedin would untie the game for the Canucks on a power play minutes later, giving way to late-game heroics from Ryane Clowe but, at the time it was scored, Mitchell's goal was huge, drawing San Jose even with a powerhouse Vancouver team that they deserved to beat with their showing that night. After taking a drop pass from Kyle Wellwood in the neutral zone, Mitchell walked through and around every Canuck on the ice before firing the puck five-hole on Schneider:
In all seriousness, despite the hate he often took from much of the fanbase, Mitchell was a useful player for the Sharks at times. He nearly broke even playing the toughs with Rissmiller and Grier as a rookie in 07-08 and was an important part of the best third line in Sharks history alongside Wellwood and Joe Pavelski in the second half of 10-11. Despite his struggles last season, he could help the Wild if slotted into an appropriate role. So long, Torrey, and thanks for all the tacos.