Ryan Whitney skated for 40 minutes this morning, but he didn’t return for the 2nd session with group A. Whitney gave us an update on how he felt, and when Oiler fans can expect to see him play.
Was the plan going in to have you only skate for 40 minutes?
Whitney: Yep. It will probably be like that for a week. They’d rather have me wishing I could be out there longer rather than thinking I’ve got to get off cause it’s been too long. I could definitely have stayed out there, but for the first seven days it looks like I’ll only be going about 40 minutes, and hopefully after that I’ll be ready to go.
What is the biggest issue? Mobility or is it a painful?
Whitney: No. It’s actually feels great for the first 30 or 40 minutes, but then when it gets tired it gets really sore. It’s about strengthening it endurance-wise and making it stronger when it gets tired. The pain doesn’t come until it’s get tired or worn down, and right now that’s about 30 or 40 minutes in. I need to get it up to 90 minutes or two hours.
You said you were trying some new orthotics. Have you noticed a difference at all?
Whitney: It is feels good. It’s supporting my arch a bit more. The injury happened when my foot fell and that can’t happen with these orthotics. It’s just about trying different things until something works. When I was playing last year, and playing well, there was nothing in my skate, so either way it’s no big deal. I’m just looking for kind of addition that can help.
How does this set you up going into the season? Does this put you behind schedule?
Whitney: I hope not. My goal is to get two or three exhibition games. I know the last two are back-to-back, so if I don’t get one before then, I know I’ll only play one. Maybe I can get the one before then, I think it is Calgary in ten days, so that’s a good goal to have. If it doesn’t happen, it’s not the end of the world, but after not playing for half a season it would be tough to jump into the regular season. I’d like to get some warmup games.
Do you think you’ll be a 20-minute a night guy instead of 25 minutes to start the season?
Whitney: Ralph (Krueger) talked to me already and said the first game I play will only be 18-20 minutes. It might be like that for a little bit, which is fine. The best thing they said to me is have me hoping I could play more or stay on the ice longer, rather than playing too much and re-injuring it. That’s a pretty good way of looking at it, the coaches thought of it, so I’m going to go that way once the games start.
Back in Pittsburgh you rushed back too soon. How important is it to be patient this time?
Whitney: I think that is the biggest thing. The best thing is that the team is with me right now with that. Not that Pittsburgh wasn’t, it was more me being selfish and wanting to play before I was necessarily ready. The guys here are all telling me they are with me and I should take my time. Not only would I hurt myself, and the way I play, if I came back early, but I wouldn’t help the team. It’s about doing the best thing for both of us.
I get a sense the organization has become more cautious when it comes to returning from injuries. Whitney, Ales Hemsky and Colten Teubert have all been held back a bit, and I don’t think that was always the case in the past.
It’s a nice change, and one the Oilers hope helps keep guys on the ice and off the injured list.