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Torrey Mitchell on McLellan Being Ahead of Analytics Curve, “Scare Tactics” Prank, Clowe Update



Torrey Mitchell burst on the scene during the 2007-08 season, scoring one of the more memorable goals in San Jose Sharks history.

But during the next pre-season, Mitchell crashed into a post in a scrimmage, breaking his left leg. The forward wouldn’t play a hockey game for 14 months.

“I was never the same player when I came back,” Mitchell admitted to Locked On Sharks. “But I managed to play 10 more years.”

A solid chunk of that was with San Jose, where the 2004 fourth-round pick provided speed and penalty killing for Todd McLellan’s back-to-back Western Conference finalists.

In July 2012, Mitchell signed with the Minnesota Wild. He also played for Buffalo, his hometown Canadiens, and Los Angeles, before retiring in 2018.

Mitchell revisited his San Jose Sharks career with us and detailed his new endeavor, Elev802.

Here are some highlights from this rollicking chat, including when Ron Wilson pranked Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi, how Todd McLellan was ahead of the analytics curve, Torrey’s side of Jeremy Roenick’s infamous “Scare Tactics” prank, and how Ryane Clowe is doing these days.

Listen to the entire podcast below, this is just a tease!

Torrey Mitchell, on how Ron Wilson kept him and fellow rookie Devin Setoguchi in suspense on whether or not they had made the San Jose Sharks:

Ron Wilson brought us into the office. I guess before the last pre-season game? An hour before warm-ups.

And he said something like, “Sorry guys, this is a numbers thing. You’ve performed really well…”

And we were like, oh man, we’re going to get sent down? We did so well.

And he was like: “So I want you guys to pick your new numbers. You made the team.”

He totally pranked us. Our stomachs just dropped and we kind of looked at each other like are you kidding me? What do we need to do to make this team? And he kind of let it play out for five more seconds.

Mitchell, on Todd McLellan:

For me, Todd was the best coach I’ve ever had. He could command a room. You noticed it right away, when he came in, when guys like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau and Jeremy Roenick and Rob Blake — we had such a veteran team — when those guys are perked up in their seats because the head coach is talking, you know this guy could command the room.

Mitchell, on how McLellan and his staff were ahead of the analytics curve:

A specific example, I remember [my first] training camp with Todd McLellan. Our offensive zone entries, when we crossed the offensive zone blueline in transition, they knew the shooting angle — if we shot from wherever — they knew 70 percent of the time, the puck ends up here. So we need to have a guy there to retrieve the puck. They were already ahead of the curve.

I don’t know if it was [assistant coach] Jay Woodcroft that was piecing that stuff together just by watching games. Because we certainly didn’t have an analytics guy hired for the team yet. But it was alive and well then…

That was the first time I had ever seen that.

Mitchell, on how knee surgery in 2008 changed the trajectory of his career:

I was never the same player when I came back. But I managed to play 10 more years.

Mitchell, on the infamous Jeremy Roenick “Scare Tactics” prank:

For five years after that incident — that prank — I’d be lining up at the faceoff, and guys would be like, “Please tell me that story is true.” I’d be like, yeah, it’s true.

It was going around the league for a while once people started finding out about it.

Mitchell, on if he and Setoguchi ever got Roenick back:

No. (laughs) It’s on the back of our minds though. We’d love to get back at him.

Mitchell, on how Ryane Clowe is doing:

He’s doing a lot better. He was still having headaches when he was coaching there last year. But he seems to be fully back on track. Let’s see if he gets the coaching itch again.

From what I heard, he’s a pretty good coach. And he really likes it. So we’ll see.

Part of me thinks that’s not the last time the hockey world is going to hear Ryane Clowe’s name.

Mitchell, on Elev802:

Over the last five or six years, we’ve seen a lot of these smaller studio-size, almost patch ice rinks, where you can get a lot of touches, get a lot done in a small space. Most recently, Auston Matthews let people know he grew up training on rinks like this.

We thought it was a little niche business that we could start. I have a partner [Peter Lenes] who I played with at the University of Vermont and had just retired from playing in Austria.

Our ice is about 40 x 60 feet. We do skill development. We do private hockey lessons, mostly one-on-one.

We’ve been open a little more than a year. We’ve created a pretty good following on social media with our content.

It’s caught fire locally in Vermont. If it wasn’t for COVID — we’ve had so many messages from hockey players, boys and girls, from outside Vermont, all the way up to Montreal and Toronto and south to Boston. We’ve had a lot of interest. It’s been pretty cool…

If you aren’t doing stuff like this where you’re getting this many touches on a smaller sheet…the American Development Model (ADM), it’s what they do with the five, six, seven, eight-year-olds…when you go to practice, the ADM model, they break you up into small 40 x 60 stations anyway, so the kids are doing small-area skills.

USA Hockey, it’s not a fluke they’re doing that. They know. Our training model is very similar to theirs, its small-area skills. Every kid is doing it now.

To answer your question, if you’re not doing small-area skills, you have no chance of playing hockey at a high level. And every kid is starting out that way with USA Hockey. Everyone’s on that track right now.

Kyle, Erik, JD, and Sheng Peng from San Jose Hockey Now chat with San Jose Sharks fan favorite Torrey Mitchell. Among other things, we cover:

  • Does Torrey Mitchell know about “Taco Torrey”? (2:00)
  • When Ron Wilson pranked Mitchell and Devin Setoguchi (5:00)
  • Wilson vs. McLellan (11:00)
  • Importance of beating Red Wings in playoffs (14:00)
  • How McLellan and staff were ahead of the analytics curve (17:00)
  • Mitchell on the long-term effects of his 2008 knee surgery, including five more surgeries and problems today walking down the stairs (21:00)
  • Torrey’s side of the infamous “Scare Tactics” prank, including new details on how an Arizona Cardinals guard was involved and the locker room fallout (27:00)
  • Memories of playing in the Cow Palace for the San Francisco Bulls + a Ryane Clowe update (35:00)
  • Mitchell explains his new endeavor Elev802 and its role in the future of the game (42:00)

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