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Panthers’ Mitchell believes the NHL is ‘slipping’ on player safety

Ales Hemsky, Willie Mitchell

Florida Panthers defenseman Willie Mitchell (33) slams Dallas Stars right wing Ales Hemsky (83) into the boards during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015 in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)


Willie Mitchell has been in the NHL for a long time, and he’s seen all the changes that have been made to make the game safer.

But the 38-year-old Panthers captain -- currently out of the lineup with a concussion -- is worried that the league has been “slipping” in the safety department.

And he says that his fellow players are “worried about it.”

“If my game slips, a coach will come tell me, it’s slipping,” Mitchell told Sportsnet in a lengthy interview. “Well, on trying to protect us, the league is slipping.”

If the players are as concerned as Mitchell suggests they are, it will be interesting to see if the NHLPA tries to do something about it. That’s the organization that’s supposed to represent the best interests of the players. It could always pressure the league to crack down on dangerous play.

Of course, the PA also has a duty to represent players who believe they’ve been unfairly suspended, which has the potential to complicate matters.