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."
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."
— 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.