August 24 2011 10:54PM
What if Ryan Whitney's right ankle doesn't hold up? That's a question that's been rattling around my cranium since I interviewed Whitney on Aug. 13. I'm guessing it's a question that Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has asked as well. Of that, I can't say for sure.
I've listened to the interview, on Nation Radio, two or three times since Whitney and I chatted, and I've got to admit that now, as then, I'm not completely convinced the ankle will be 100 per cent by the time that training camp opens.
More important, whenever Whitney is ready, how will that surgically repaired tendon that detached respond when he starts pushing people and they start pushing back in game action? And how long will it hold up?
I don't have any inside information here. Neither Whitney nor anybody with the Oilers or involved in his rehab has told me anything on the down-low about progress, or lack of same, with the ankle.
But after procedures to re-align bones -- Whitney's left foot was done in August 2008 while he was with Pittsburgh and his right foot was repaired during the off-season after he was acquired from Anaheim -- and having watched his ankle come apart, doubt seems reasonable.
And nothing Whitney told me here in Segment 4 of Nation Radio was convincing enough that I'm confident he's put his medical issues behind him. Again, no inside info, just gut-feeling stuff.
Somebody asked me today what the outlook for Whitney's ankle was, and if the injury that put him out after 35 games and kept him out after surgery, had anything to do with his previous foot surgeries. I suspect they're connected, although I don't know it for sure.
My amateur diagnosis is that Whitney's abnormally high arches resulted in all kinds of wear and tear to the tendons and ligaments in his feet and ankles as the body compensated. I've seen guys with bad knees wear out hips, stuff like that.
In this specific case, one might have nothing to do with the other. Then again . . . So, aside from a ready-date and questions about the durability of the right ankle, what about the left?
We saw what Tom Renney's defence looked like without Whitney for 47 games in 2010-11. Do you have confidence the defence as it stands going into camp -- Tom Gilbert, Ladislav Smid, Cam Barker, Theo Peckham, Andy Sutton and Taylor Chorney or Jeff Petry -- can hold up without Whitney? I don't. Did Tambellini add enough depth to cover his backside if Whitney is out of the equation? Not that I can see.
Maybe I'm crossed up on this one, drawing the wrong conclusions from the interview, but the questions about Whitney's ankle nag me no matter how many times I listen to his answers. I'm nervous.
The Oilers should be, too.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.