RYAN WHITNEY: ABOUT THAT ANKLE . . .

Robin Brownlee
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.

WE'LL SEE

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.

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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#1 Smythyyyyyy
August 24 2011, 10:56PM
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I've fallen and I can't get up.

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#2 Puckbag
August 24 2011, 11:06PM
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@ Robin

Any indication that Whitney would risk coming back a little early to help the squad or is he willing to wait and let the ankle completely heal?

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#3 Hax
August 24 2011, 11:06PM
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Whitney said today on Bob's show today that he "tweaked" it two weeks ago and had an MRI on it this week. He said everything is ok but it doesn't give me a lot of faith in his foot/ankle. I think Tambellini needs to add a little insurance before training camp.

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#4 Clarence Oveur
August 24 2011, 11:10PM
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Hax wrote:

Whitney said today on Bob's show today that he "tweaked" it two weeks ago and had an MRI on it this week. He said everything is ok but it doesn't give me a lot of faith in his foot/ankle. I think Tambellini needs to add a little insurance before training camp.

Agreed.

The soreness and tightness following a foot/ankle injury is normal, but given his importance to the Oiler blueline, Tambi would be wise to go out and find another defenceman just in case.

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#5 The Farmer
August 24 2011, 11:20PM
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Even if he's 100% by the start of the season, there is no way (and he even admitted as much on Oilers Now today) that he can be the kind of impact player he was before he was injured. It will take time. Who knows he may never get back to the player he was.

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#6 Eulers
August 25 2011, 12:40AM
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Sean Hannan for 1 mil seems pretty darn reassuring right now...

Oh Tambi! Solving the difficult problems (2 way centre with FO ability) but not the easy ones (defence). What ever will we make of you?

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#7 Jonathan Willis
August 25 2011, 12:50AM
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100% in agreement with this article.

An injury to Whitney would devastate the blue line. An injury to Whitney seems, if not probable, at least highly likely.

But there's no plan in place to mitigate it.

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#8 stevezie
August 25 2011, 01:12AM
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Seems to me you can't just go out there and "add" insurance, a la Scott Hannan. A solid depth guy would help stem the bleeding but wouldn't be much of a cure; what they'd need would be another top 3 d-man. Since they probably need this anyway I'm all for acquiring one, but they don't grow on trees so I can't imagine it's a simple process.

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#9 Max Powers - Team HME Evans
August 25 2011, 01:40AM
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So if it's reasonable, and it is, to think that Whitney will miss a good chunk of games then Tambo must have a sh*t ton of faith in Cam Barker. Either that or the plan is to still fail miserably... I'm going with the latter.

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#10 Stallions35
August 25 2011, 02:42AM
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Let's just trade him to LA now!! For Doughty and Quick perhaps?...lol

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#11 Jodes
August 25 2011, 02:52AM
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Go figure Tambellini trading for someone who has/had a history or injuries!

I just hope that most of the acquistions this past summer won't come back to haunt him injury wise.

The only way the Oil will get some relief is if they trade at least 2 current contracts just in case RNH does make the team.

Adding someone just for the sake of adding someone hasn't worked in the past, so why bother?

I guess we'll see what training camp brings us eh?

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#12 YFC Prez
August 25 2011, 04:03AM
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"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?" That question has been bothering me all off season. I have no faith in the blueline without Whitney as it currently stands, if he goes down early and there is no replacement the oil will be done by christmas again. "Fail for Nail" may have a nice ring to it but I don't want to spend the last half of the season with a hopefull eye on Yakupov once again looking to the future. We've put up with enough...some insurance please.

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#13 pelhem grenville
August 25 2011, 04:39AM
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...to tweak or not to tweak...

that is the question...

this [no back up] should be another nail in the coffin that is our GM's job but it won't be...from my own personal experience with a surgical foot, rest, rest and more rest is what's called for here...tendons need a boat load of time to properly fuse to bone if it is to standup to everyday mobility let alone the intense game conditions of the NHL...he needs to sit until he has a 100% solid set of wheels...imo there's no other way ...

otherwise...we just wait for him to tweak his career b-bye

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#14 Saytalk
August 25 2011, 05:42AM
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With Whitney, the team needs 3 more defencemen that can play quality top 4 minutes. Without him, they need 4 defencemen for the top 4.

So... acquiring at least one quality defenceman should be a priority, regardless of Whitney's situation. In fact, a deeper defence would allow Renney to manage Whitney's minutes and mitigate the risks of overworking that ankle.

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#15 SurfacetoAirMissile
August 25 2011, 06:21AM
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10 minutes ago I read the article and my hopes were dashed about the Oilers upcoming season. 5 minutes ago I read half the comment string while sipping my coffee and the despair has lessened and a small glimmer of hope has begun to germinate in my brain..... I have now finished reading the comments and have finished my first coffee of the day and Hope has returned and I am oozing with optimism for the up coming season..... If Whitney goes down, the Oil will just have to score more goals and win every game 6-5 (woo hoo!)

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#16 mayorpoop
August 25 2011, 06:35AM
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the important part of the process to me for whitney is that he is not rushed to play, or himself rushes to play. i'd rather him not play the first 10-20 than miss 40 later. he must rehab properly.

what mr dithers does or does not do will again lead us to forsee the goals of the team for this year. do nothing and yakupov(?) is our target, do something then we have greater goals despite what THN tells us.

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#17 Archaeologuy
August 25 2011, 06:53AM
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I had the same gut reaction to the interview. Not good news, to be sure.

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#19 jt in Oilertown
August 25 2011, 08:20AM
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~Maybe they should file a grievance with the league for receiving damaged goods.~

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#20 Walter Sobchak
August 25 2011, 08:44AM
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Maybe it's time to start looking at a plan B for a top D-man. I know this wont be popular, but when do you start thinking about moving an Omark or Petry, possible even Gagner. I’m not saying I’m for it, but options seem limited given the dept at defense, a stop gap defenseman doesn’t solve the problem. It only prolongs it, so I really only see two options. Get one via free agency next year or trade for one now.

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#21 Raidernorth
August 25 2011, 08:51AM
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.....I predict he will miss the first 10-20 games as he continues rehab. to ensure he is 100%(can he ever be that again?). Even having him around the locker room during his rehab. will be a benefit.

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#22 michael
August 25 2011, 08:55AM
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49 contracts.One to go.Would this be an opportune time to talk trade with Nashville about Suter? Can Nashville think that they'll be able to afford Weber and Suter? They are so weak upfront that it looks like a perfect fit for a Hemsky , a draft pick and a prospect.Nasville needs to do something to improve thier upfront scoring.Wouldn't you think? 14-16 million dollars for 2 dman is alot of money.

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#23 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 25 2011, 08:59AM
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Well on the bright side no Whitney this year means we'd be a front runner for another top talent next summer.

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#24 Ryan2
August 25 2011, 09:03AM
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Great point about the wear and tear on other body parts, Robin. I saw it happen with a couple of friends on the Bears track team when I was in University way back when.

As far as the need to trade for a d-man, I think Tambi will sit tight and see how things go this season. If, by some fluke, they have a shot at a playoff spot closer to the deadline then he might make a move. However, it is probably more prudent for the long term plan to sit tight and focus on getting another 1st round pick in the upcoming draft which is d-heavy at the top to address that need.

Even with the depth the team has up front, it is still likely going to be another year of learning with a lot of ups and downs for the big three up front. Let the younger d-men like Petry, Peckham and Smid gain another year of ice time as well, and see how Whitney actually holds up. Heck, maybe Gilbert finally takes a jump in his game finally as well.

The team is still a year or two away from being a consistent playoff participant and a bit longer to be a Cup contender. As much as we may not like it as fans, it is prudent to let the current young players develop for another season and add another 1st round pick or two into the system.

It might be interesting, though, to see what happens in Nashville with Weber. If the Preds are still struggling with offence a deal could probably be made. They have a surplus of good defencemen, and the Oilers have a surplus of forwards.

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#25 VMR
August 25 2011, 09:14AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

100% in agreement with this article.

An injury to Whitney would devastate the blue line. An injury to Whitney seems, if not probable, at least highly likely.

But there's no plan in place to mitigate it.

How can you plan to mitigate the damage of losing your top d-man?

No disrespect but if they can do anything to make the defence better they should be, whether Whitney is an injury risk or not. If he goes down to injury there's no way to mitigate the damge except long term with a better draft pick.

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#26 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
August 25 2011, 09:21AM
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VMR wrote:

How can you plan to mitigate the damage of losing your top d-man?

No disrespect but if they can do anything to make the defence better they should be, whether Whitney is an injury risk or not. If he goes down to injury there's no way to mitigate the damge except long term with a better draft pick.

A little depth would help.

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#27 mayorpoop
August 25 2011, 09:34AM
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michael wrote:

49 contracts.One to go.Would this be an opportune time to talk trade with Nashville about Suter? Can Nashville think that they'll be able to afford Weber and Suter? They are so weak upfront that it looks like a perfect fit for a Hemsky , a draft pick and a prospect.Nasville needs to do something to improve thier upfront scoring.Wouldn't you think? 14-16 million dollars for 2 dman is alot of money.

i like the thought of suter. i am not sure of what nashville's capabilities are to re-sign both suter and weber, and then rinne. it should seem daunting and unlikely for them to do so.

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#28 WeepForTheSin
August 25 2011, 09:47AM
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If Whitney goes down, we get Ryan Murray and I think I'm okay with that.

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#29 Doittambo
August 25 2011, 09:50AM
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McCabe... I said MCCABE. do it Tambo.

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#30 madjam
August 25 2011, 09:57AM
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Whitney seems concerned about the surgery due to small swelling . Cause for concern , but it just might need more rehab to strenghten it . Proper rehab and exercise routine to build up strength over the course of next few weeks might be all that's required to make it stronger than ever before . I've ripped ligaments off the bones with just a few strands to hold it on several times . Came back weaker each time for years and reinjured easily for years after till sent to rehab for a couple of weeks to specialist who showed me how to strenthen it without going thru surgery with proper exercise routine . It worked and now they are both stronger than ever before . Took all of about 3 weeks , and i still do some exercises to maintain that high level years later . A lot of those exercises can be advantageous just doing them from confort of chair and couch similiar to doing isometricts . A balance ball helps if you have one around as well . Exercising before going on ice will do wonders to keep it stronger and prevent an occurance of wonky ankles , etc..

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#31 Walter Sobchak
August 25 2011, 10:13AM
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If I misinformed please correct me. I was under the impression that it wasn’t just the injuries alone. It was a multiple of issues, there is scare tissue related concern and discomfort, and his arches are what aggravate him the most. It’s not as bad as Forsberg from what I understand, but it definitely isn’t good.

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#32 Lochenzo
August 25 2011, 10:14AM
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Dealing with the cost-conscious Nashville Predators means that you're gonna have to give up picks. They don't want big salary in return. They'll take one player back plus prospects and picks to make up the difference. If I were Tambi, I would not be willing to put next year's 1st on the table. This roster is thin in NHL experience and a lot can go wrong quickly. And if you look at the top end talent of the 2012 entry draft, you'll be kicking yourself for missing out on some of these future stars. Why pay a stiff price for Shea Weber (fresh off a Norris trophy so you're paying top dollar) today when you can be a little patient and have a talent like Ryan Murray fall right into your lap? Maybe a Matt Dumba? Yakupov?

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#33 Dodd
August 25 2011, 10:23AM
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Hmmm I wasn't thinking "McCabe" until after I read this article.

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#34 Shane
August 25 2011, 10:24AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

If I misinformed please correct me. I was under the impression that it wasn’t just the injuries alone. It was a multiple of issues, there is scare tissue related concern and discomfort, and his arches are what aggravate him the most. It’s not as bad as Forsberg from what I understand, but it definitely isn’t good.

He's had surgery to repair the high arches freak condition he had and I was under the assumption that that isn't the problem anymore.

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#35 rubbertrout
August 25 2011, 10:27AM
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The number of contracts we have is probably the only reason no depth defender was signed.

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#36 Walter Sobchak
August 25 2011, 10:28AM
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@Shane

Thanks Shane. I heard that the arches were still an issue though?

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#37 Shane
August 25 2011, 10:49AM
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@Walter Sobchak

Yea I've heard both(mostly from some commenters over at Lowetides) some people say after the surgery it's fine and some say that because of the surgery it's puts extra wear and tear on the rest of the foot(was his injury part of that?) maybe I'm just trying to be optimistic, Stanley in 2014 right?.......right?????

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#38 Shane
August 25 2011, 10:51AM
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Heres a link to LTs article, there's some good information being thrown around in the comments section

http://lowetide.blogspot.com/2011/08/whitneys-injury.html?m=1

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#39 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 25 2011, 10:55AM
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I know it won't surprise anyone that i say this but i kinda hope Whitney puts together a strong season so he can be moved at the deadline. Ryan's here for this year and next and i'm not sure he's durable enough to be the #1 or 2 D'man here longterm. Move him and go hard after Weber or Suter if Detroit doesn't get their hands on them first.

This puts a little bit of pressure on Petry,Mirancin,Tuebert and Musil but hey, isn't that what this game is all about.

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#40 Chris.
August 25 2011, 10:56AM
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pelhem grenville wrote:

...to tweak or not to tweak...

that is the question...

this [no back up] should be another nail in the coffin that is our GM's job but it won't be...from my own personal experience with a surgical foot, rest, rest and more rest is what's called for here...tendons need a boat load of time to properly fuse to bone if it is to standup to everyday mobility let alone the intense game conditions of the NHL...he needs to sit until he has a 100% solid set of wheels...imo there's no other way ...

otherwise...we just wait for him to tweak his career b-bye

Whitney's fine... Tell him to stop being such a baby and make sure his ass is in training camp on time! I played on a broken ankle for cryin' out loud!

*Lowe slams the phone and continues work whiting out Souray's name from old game sheets.

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#41 vetinari
August 25 2011, 11:29AM
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The Oil need to acquire/develop a true top 2 defenceman and add another 3/4 defencman from somewhere to stay competitive in the West. A good defence can mask a mediocre goalie to some extent and lord knows that our goalies may be a cause for concern going into this season.

I still say that a call to Nashville about Weber may be in order... even if nothing comes to pass in the short term, you might be able to get him out of Nashville by the deadline or the draft if they decide to trade him for some prospects and picks.

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#42 michael
August 25 2011, 11:45AM
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Suter is the dman I would target. Nashville must be thinking OMG who is going to score for us this season??? Geoffrion?Legwand? They are really thin upfront. The only thing that may keep them from being last in the westeren Conference is Rinne. How much is he going to be worth? Trotz is a good coach but can he make bricks from mud??? michael

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#43 Maggie the Monkey
August 25 2011, 11:57AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

100% in agreement with this article.

An injury to Whitney would devastate the blue line. An injury to Whitney seems, if not probable, at least highly likely.

But there's no plan in place to mitigate it.

What do I think the Oilers' mitigation strategy is for a long injury to Whitney this season? Ryan Murray.

Edit to add: I probably should have read comments 28 & 32 before posting...

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#44 madjam
August 25 2011, 12:01PM
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Perhaps just phantom pains from elsewhere , as he has not been rehabbing all the time he was off ? Pain in the butt whatever it is .

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#45 Archaeologuy
August 25 2011, 12:21PM
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Ok Nations. For Realsies. Those guys at CoppernBlue have an iPhone App. Where the hell is yours? AND you best make an HD iPad version. I'm tired of sending all my comments via messenger pigeon.

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#46 mayorpoop
August 25 2011, 12:38PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

Ok Nations. For Realsies. Those guys at CoppernBlue have an iPhone App. Where the hell is yours? AND you best make an HD iPad version. I'm tired of sending all my comments via messenger pigeon.

is it the one that costs $4.99? bush league.

come on WAYNE i do not want to buy it i want an ON one NOW, please.

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#47 Archaeologuy
August 25 2011, 12:47PM
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@mayorpoop

nope free

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#48 mayorpoop
August 25 2011, 01:21PM
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@Archaeologuy

what is it called?

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#49 Archaeologuy
August 25 2011, 02:00PM
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@mayorpoop

SB Nation. CnB is a supported blog on there.

I would love Oilersnation/The Nation Network of sites to have their very own app, not be an affiliated blog on a list of 300+.

Mainly I just wanted to complain*

*Mission Accomplished

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#50 Dog Train
August 25 2011, 04:06PM
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The season hasn't even started yet. Do we already have to start worrying about injuries? We've had enough injuries over the past few years.

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