Whitney: more bad news coming?

Robin Brownlee
March 05 2010 03:01PM

I've already said I like the acquisition of Ryan Whitney at the NHL trade deadline, but what he told me in the Edmonton Oilers dressing room this morning sent a shiver down my spine.

Speaking of body parts, it seems Whitney has bad feet. Anybody who has been paying attention knows that Whitney had surgery on his left foot in August 2008, a procedure that limited him to 48 games in 2008-09 after seasons of 38, 59 and 40 points in Pittsburgh.

The surgery, called an osteotomy, is defined as a procedure to shorten, lengthen or realign a bone or bones. The catch is the operation wasn't done to repair a broken bone, but to correct a chronic condition wearing inserts in his skates didn't remedy.

Given all the fun the Oilers have had with Nikolai Khabibulin's back this season, would it make anybody else nervous if Whitney suggested he's now having problems with his right foot?

Apparently, he is.

What he said

"The left foot is just great, the one I had surgery on," Whitney told reporters at Rexall Place this morning.

"I'm just kind of battling a little bit with the right one right now. It's just kind of about figuring out what's going to work and what's best for me and how to feel healthy again. That's half the battle of playing well. I think it's just something I was kind of born with."

Pardon?

Whitney, 27, gave no indication today his right foot is bothering him enough that he will miss any games down the stretch. There's been no indication he'll require surgery. I haven't asked the Oilers medical staff about that. Likewise, I don't know if the Oilers shipped Lubomir Visnovsky to Anaheim for Whitney knowing about the condition or not.

It does, however, at least seem reason for pause, given the four-year contract handed Khabibulin, despite his previous back problems. It's something to keep an eye on.

Looking to rebound

Whitney, who played with the US Team at the 2010 Olympics, isn't using his foot problems as a crutch when it comes to his fall-off in production these past couple seasons, but it's not a stretch to suggest it's impacted his performance.

In 2005-06 with Pittsburgh, he had 38 points in just 68 games as a 22-year-old. In 2006-07, he had 59 points in 81 games. In 2007-08, he had 40 points in 76 games.

After surgery, which was performed in Charlotte, North Carolina, he played 28 games with the Penguins, scoring 2-11-13, before being dealt to Anaheim, where he added 10 assists in 20 games. He'd scored 4-24-28 in 62 games with the Ducks this season when the trade came.

"I think it's just, partly, not being healthy," Whitney said when I asked him about the past two seasons. "You never want to make excuses, but you've got some injuries I had to deal with.

"You're dealing with certain things. At the same time, though, it's just about kind of really finding your passion for the game and working harder to get better."

And...

-- Adding to the team's ridiculous injury woes, defenceman Ladislav Smid is out for the season because he needs surgery to repair a disc problem in his neck, according to coach Pat Quinn.

-- The infection Sheldon Souray has after surgery to repair a broken hand is serious enough that he's been hospitalized.

Captain Ethan Moreau told Jim Matheson and I this morning Souray knew something was badly amiss when he bumped his elbow and it swelled up like a balloon.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Robin Brownlee
March 05 2010, 04:16PM
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misfit wrote:

I don't know what my agenda would be. I've just always thought Ryan Whitney was a bad hockey player who's been incredibly overrated pretty much his entire career. If he's had a bad foot for years (not sure how long it's been a problem), then maybe it's been holding him back. And if it can be corrected with surgery, then maybe he'll be better down the road.

I'm a homer, so he's one of my 23 favorite players by default. I'm just trying to find some sort of silver lining to what I think was a terrible trade for an average player.

I asked because I've heard lots of debate on Whitney, but don't recall anybody saying he "sucks." That seems a stretch.

Then again, I see he's already progressed from "sucks" to "bad" to "average" in two comments by you, so maybe you just opened with an overstatement.

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#52 Archaeologuy
March 05 2010, 04:18PM
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@SpotTheLoon

"I recognize everything doesn't go according to plan but neither does everything go bad either"

May I call to the court's attention Oilers' History from June 2006 - Present

Look, if you want to ignore the recent history and pretend that everything this management group has ever done is Grade A then good for you. But dont complain about the other people who are living in reality and arent so cheery. Saying that Whitney can just have surgery and will be better is questionable thinking.

Make a good case for optimism and I'll be happy to believe in fairy dust or whatever it is you're puting up your nose to be so damned happy.

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#53 Robin Brownlee
March 05 2010, 04:21PM
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Arby wrote:

I called that number but all i got was your mom asking me what i was wearing.

Winner.

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#54 SpotTheLoon
March 05 2010, 04:23PM
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Ender wrote:

Ummmmm . . . we didn't have any complaints when the Oil went on their Cup run. I was pretty happy, at least . . .

You are looking at the standings for this year, right? For the Oilers? Playing out of Edmonton? If you can't find them, just keep scanning down . . . . . keep going . . . a little further . . . there you go. There's our little Ray of Sunshine. Put some perspective on anything?

Yeah, I know where they are in the standings. But I see positive coming out of the recent trades. If you prefer, keep bitching about the team. Decry ever single thing that they do in an effort to improve the team and give the fans their money's worth. Sure, the last few years have been tough. But if you would prefer to continue looking backwards at past mistakes, be my guest. It is easy to second guess things when you can see how they have turned out. Being a fan is about having faith in the future, I think. And I feel more optimistic now about the Oilers than I have in the last couple years. That said, I don't live in the past either.

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#55 Wanye
March 05 2010, 04:23PM
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Insider wrote:

Put in a call 816-513-3500, tellthem Dave sent you.

If you keep this pace up you will have to change your name from "Insider" to "Formerly employed by the Oilers until I told all their secrets on the OilersNation"

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#56 SpotTheLoon
March 05 2010, 04:25PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

"I recognize everything doesn't go according to plan but neither does everything go bad either"

May I call to the court's attention Oilers' History from June 2006 - Present

Look, if you want to ignore the recent history and pretend that everything this management group has ever done is Grade A then good for you. But dont complain about the other people who are living in reality and arent so cheery. Saying that Whitney can just have surgery and will be better is questionable thinking.

Make a good case for optimism and I'll be happy to believe in fairy dust or whatever it is you're puting up your nose to be so damned happy.

As I said yesterday in a post, the Oilers have not done a proper rebuild in the past 20 years. They have tried to band aid things together in the hopes of squeaking into the playoffs. But I get the impression that, this time, Tambi is going to do it properly.

Isn't it tough driving the car while constantly looking in the rear view mirror?

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#57 David S
March 05 2010, 04:27PM
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Wanye wrote:

We can't have a diss button yet. Not with a 30th place team and everyone pissed off. This site is about positivity.

Positivity and hidden easter egg pornography!!*

*Really

Aptly spoken where the post title is "Whitney: more bad news coming?".

C'mon man. Admit it. The diss button would be hilarious.

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#58 Archaeologuy
March 05 2010, 04:30PM
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@SpotTheLoon

If you havent pieced it together from my name, I specialize in the past. Hard for me to look at the future without first looking at the past.

I can tell you think Tambi is rebuilding properly. Can you tell I dont?

Isnt it tough driving the car while blindfolded?

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#59 GSC
March 05 2010, 04:50PM
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I think it's far to at least question why this team seems to have rashes of injuries and health issues.

It seems like there is always a problem. Not to mention, why do the Oilers seem hell-bent on building around players with chronic injury problems? Horcoff, Souray, Khabibulin, Whitney...when does it end?

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#60 Rip Torn
March 05 2010, 05:26PM
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Defensemen-

Visnovsky: SOG = 78, Scoring % = .128(#1 in NHL D-men)

Whitney: SOG = 107, Scoring % = .037

Shae Weber: SOG = 179, Scoring % = .067

Mike Green: SOG = 167, Scoring % = .090

Forwards: Patrik Elias % = .129 Alexei Ponikarovsky % = .129 Rick Nash % = .128 Jonathan Toews % = .127 Patrick Kane % = .127 Marian Hossa, Jason Spezza, Ryan Getzlaf % = .125

These numbers scare me the most. Imagine Lubo getting Shae Weber shots. Yikes!! Someone (Anaheim) is getting a super accurate shooter which will translate into more points for everyone he plays with.

We lost that deal big Time.

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#61 Robinrussia
March 05 2010, 05:29PM
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Robin,

Is the souray infection serious...i.e. a drug resistant strain? is it getting better? I assume the antibiotics he took after the surgery would take care of most problems but at this stage its can't be good.

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#62 jt in Oilertown
March 05 2010, 05:32PM
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Insider wrote:

Katz has nsomething going on with Kansas city, he is doing all the PR about a downtown rink, with no monies from him, he will say he tried and it was a no go.Kansas offered him a stake in a casino along with the rink. Deep Oil will know about this. Brownlee start digging it will be the biggest story you ever broke.

While you're at it, Robin, look for the clause that allows Katz to move the team if attendance falls below a certain threshold. I bet the team's next moves will be to get a washed-up catcher with bad knees and a relief pitcher from the California Penal league.

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#63 Archaeologuy
March 05 2010, 05:37PM
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@jt in Oilertown

oooooooh, and everytime the team wins a game, no matter how unlikely, the smarmy olde timey coach will remove a piece of clothing on a cardboard cutout of the owner!

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#64 Ender
March 05 2010, 05:41PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

oooooooh, and everytime the team wins a game, no matter how unlikely, the smarmy olde timey coach will remove a piece of clothing on a cardboard cutout of the owner!

They may as well pack their bags then. The only one a naked Katz might inspire is Gilbert, and he's pretty harmless at the best of times.

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#65 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
March 05 2010, 05:55PM
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And this basically sums up why you don't trade a top end guy still under contract for a few more years at 2:59 on deadline day.

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#66 TigerUnderGlass
March 05 2010, 06:34PM
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Ender wrote:

I was optimistic when Tambo said he didn't want to sign an older goalie for two years. Then he went out and signed one for four.

I was optimistic when Tambo said he was icing a competitive team last summer. Then, after assessing all the holes and surpluses on this team, he decided that the only thing we really needed was another small forward.

I was kind of pleasantly surprised when I found out that Tambo had managed to get a pick and a real, live, breathing player in exchange for Steve Staios. I'd have been quite happy about that if it weren't for all the rage coursing through my veins at the same time upon learning the return we got for our last tangible asset on defense.

I should be optimistic now? When Stauffer gets a text from Katz that says Tambo isn't going anywhere, then I'll be optimistic.

Perfectly said.

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#67 Bryzarro World
March 05 2010, 06:52PM
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misfit wrote:

I just noticed the "props" button. For the record, that was me giving myself props. How long has that thing been there?

Who cares.... it's stupid.

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#68 Rob...
March 05 2010, 06:57PM
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Jaime wrote:

You'd think the Whitney trade is the biggest crisis to hit the planet in months.

No kidding. We could always look at this the other way... that once Whitney gets his other foot fixed up he gets back to peak form again, making the Ducks sorry they traded him. It's not like we're in a playoff push and this now drags us out of contention.

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#69 TigerUnderGlass
March 05 2010, 07:02PM
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Why don't they make him fix the other one in the offseason?

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#70 Heavyd
March 05 2010, 07:19PM
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@Bryzarro World

Whos cares.... Your banned.

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#71 TigerUnderGlass
March 05 2010, 07:43PM
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@Robin Brownlee

In your conversation with him did you get the impression that he felt surgery sorted the other foot out or that it was just coincidence that the other foot is the one now bothering him?

Is surgery a possibility? If it were me and and surgery worked before I would want to do it on the other foot as soon as possible, especially if it might impact my career.

Chronic conditions are not fun, even minor ones.

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#73 Helmethead
March 05 2010, 07:57PM
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Death Metal Nightmare wrote:

jesus christ. do the Oilers do any background checks at all when they trade or sign dudes?

"BROKEN BACK? HOTT. SIGN THAT MOFO!... OH, CLUB FEET THAT NEED SURGERY? WICKED, HOW ABOUT LUBO STRAIGHT UP FOR THE ELEPHANT MAN."

That's just too damn funny...WHY? because it's true! Typical Oil not doing the homework prior to making a deal. Man I can't wait for the plethora of excuses from the Oil brass after this calamity. Get on it Brownleee. Use the one hand you've been patting them on the back with and slap some sense into ANYONE there in the Oilers organization!!

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#74 TigerUnderGlass
March 05 2010, 08:00PM
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@Robin Brownlee

That makes a lot of sense. Off season would be the best time to do it and if his other foot is better it is probably the right thing to do.

Is there any chance management was thinking ahead to the point where they believe surgery will put him back on track? Never mind, that is far to unlikely.

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#75 Helmethead
March 05 2010, 08:15PM
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Listening to the game on the radio and Ryan Jones is gone for the night due to a knee on knee hit with The Booger man. And the wounded list grows. Man this team is seriously jinxed if a new players are injured 25 minutes into wearing Oiler silks. Maybe they just burn those retro threads!

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#76 Rob...
March 05 2010, 08:38PM
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@Robin Brownlee

For clarification, my comment referred to Jaime's 'quoted' comment embedded in my post. Regarding that comment, I made an assumption that it referred to those whose comments made it sound like this was the worst thing ever. I didn't think it would be taken any other way. I was obviously wrong.

Your blog was newsworthy and informative, but I'm beginning to think the professional trolls around here have you wound a little tight. I promise you that if I have a problem with something you say, I will come out and say it.

In the meantime, I'm hoping you or someone else will keep digging to find out if the Oilers knew about Whitney's problem ahead of time.

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#78 Lofty
March 05 2010, 08:59PM
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Helmethead wrote:

Listening to the game on the radio and Ryan Jones is gone for the night due to a knee on knee hit with The Booger man. And the wounded list grows. Man this team is seriously jinxed if a new players are injured 25 minutes into wearing Oiler silks. Maybe they just burn those retro threads!

It was a nice knee too. Should have at least got 5min but only got 2 because they're playing in Mini. I can understand nobody going after the Boogie monster but dont you have to do something?

What happened to the good old days when cheap crap like that would start goalie bowling wars? A good old blatent run from the blueline. Makes you miss Bucky, Gator, Semenko, McSorley and Messier.

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#79 Helmethead
March 05 2010, 10:47PM
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@Lofty

*sigh* Ahh yes the good 'ole days.

Makes you wonder why the Oil deemed MacIntyre expendable. Yes he wasn't the best player on the ice but I'd take his size and the roster spot over the likes of useless t!ts like O'Sullivan.

I've never seen such a coward of a hockey player. If he was scoring goals and putting up points I'd turn a blind eye to his physical game, but the guy just has no courage and no willingness to fight for a puck.

If ever the Oil need to dump a player or a salary it has to be his. He's the face of what's wrong with this team. Work ethic is fine but lacks heart, commitment and courage.

Polar opposite of the players you mentioned Lofty.

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#80 Jaime
March 05 2010, 11:58PM
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@Rob...

I wasn't commenting on your article Robin, I was commenting on some of the more negative posters on here who have written off Ryan Whitney one game into his Oilers career.

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#81 Pajamah
March 06 2010, 06:49AM
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OilrHead wrote:

A little History lesson:

This little team was bad. Not only they were bad, they had serious injury troubles. They lost more man-games than any other team in the league. This bad injury prone team also had a goalie with injury problems and his nickname was Khabby. In the end, the silver lining was that they had made great draft picks for 3 years straight. That was the Chicago Blackhawks.

When I look at the Oilers today, I see history repeating itself.

Exactly, we bring in 3 top 4-5 picks in 3 years, plus some of the high end prospects we already have, this team becomes ultra competitive.

Were not looking at the skeleton of our future team, but maybe auditioning 6-8 players to be Oilers when were finally coming out of this funk

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#82 Scuba Steve
March 06 2010, 09:37AM
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@Reagan

Yes, I want a snuggy! Snuggies are the blankets with arms!!

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#83 Mike Modano's Dog
March 08 2010, 04:36AM
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Pajamah wrote:

Exactly, we bring in 3 top 4-5 picks in 3 years, plus some of the high end prospects we already have, this team becomes ultra competitive.

Were not looking at the skeleton of our future team, but maybe auditioning 6-8 players to be Oilers when were finally coming out of this funk

Exactly, the point. I was sure OilrHead was talking about our Oilers until the end of the story.

We just need to ride this out and not get too excited and allow us to rebuild naturally. * * Note: opposite of old Islanders or current Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild which consists of trading top draft picks away to patch problem and hope rebuild is done already!

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