Since making his debut as an Oiler on March 5th, 2010, Ryan Whitney has eight goals and 58 points In 105 games. He had tallied 38 points in his first 54 games, before injuring his ankle December 28th against Buffalo. He then missed 78 of the next 129 games with a variety of ankle/foot issues.

Whitney was able to play the final 34 games last season, but it was clear he’d lost some footspeed. He was frustrated, but he admitted that in those final few games he was finally pain free. His injury wasn’t hampering his speed, or lack thereof, his leg strength was.

Due to his injury in December of 2010, Whitney hadn’t been able to do any off-season training heading in the summer of 2011. It was obvious on the ice that he had no explosiveness, but when the Oilers packed their bags this past April Whitney was in a surprisingly good mood. He told me he was looking forward to finally being able to work out, and he was determined a solid summer of training would allow him to rediscover his game.

I spoke to Whitney back in May and he was just getting set to start training. He was still very excited about working out, but most importantly he was looking forward to power skating again.

I talked with Whitney again on Tuesday and got an update on how his summer is going.

JG : I talked to you after the season and you talked openly about how you were looking forward to this summer for training more than you ever had because you were actually going to get back on the ice and do power skating, something that you hadn’t done in two years. How is that going; have you noticed a difference and does that excite you for the season even more?

RW: I’ve really enjoyed getting back on the ice and finally getting healthy and realising that there is more to my game than I was showing. But it’s a long road to try to get back to how you were feeling when you were younger. I’ve put in a lot of hours and am probably in the best shape I’ve been in for a long time and so just being able to train all summer and be in the gym means a lot.

JG: How much of a difference do you think that power skating will do to help you when the season starts?

RW: I think that it will help a tonne, just getting back my stride, not being choppy and just little things that when you’re one on one with someone they are able to pick out.

JG: Is there anything that you’re doing different with your training because of the ankle injuries, or is that not an issue at all?

RW: No, I think that I’ve just been able to do a lot more plyometrics and nothing really hurts anymore, which was holding me back so much. And last summer I didn’t really do anything and so to be able to do box jumps, squat jumps, just different things like that that can give you leg power back can make a huge difference.

JG: You weren’t even able to do a box jump last summer?

RW: I wasn’t really able to do anything last summer and that was just so frustrating from the start. So it’s just like you’re playing catch up all year. I mean obviously there’s still a lot of work to be done, but I’m finally able to train all summer and it’s actually been a really good feeling to try to be able to feel healthy again.

JG: Will training help you mentally and give you more confidence when you step onto the ice this year? And will it allow you not to worry about your ankle anymore?

RW: It’s more just about feeling comfortable in my skates and on the ice. I don’t think that you can describe how really important having a training camp is and I didn’t really have a training camp last year. And like I said, you’re playing catch up. And so from the first day, whenever that is, hopefully it’s on time, to be able to just be skating with the guys it’s just going to make a huge difference not only physically, but you kind of feel like you’re part of a team again and that’s one of the biggest things.

JG: How often are you on the ice and how often are doing off-ice training?

RW: I’m skating four times a week and that’s kind of just starting this week. Before that it was just me one-on-one with a guy twice a week for probably the past month or so. You don’t want to burn yourself out. If I start being on the ice three or four days a week for the next month and a half before camp then that should be enough to get the training in.


JG: I know that you were at the NHLPA meetings, were you ever involved in any of them back in 2005?

RW: No I wasn’t. I had just turned pro that summer, so I played in the AHL playoffs the year before when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup. So to be a part of it this summer and to be able to sit in on some meetings it was pretty cool for me to be able to see how all of those things go on.

JG: You sat in on some NHLPA meetings recently, what is your gut feeling; do you think that we will have a deal before September 15th?

RW: The other day Bettman even admitted that there’s enough time for something to be done. I think it’s been well documented that that none of the players really found the first proposal acceptable, but there’s a lot of room to work with and we still have some time. Personally I don’t want there to be a work stoppage and I don’t think that anyone does. With how well the league is doing, and it always does well in Canada, but for it to be doing as well as it is in the states, that’s a big thing and any momentum we can keep is huge. So you don’t want any stoppage and lose those on the fringe fans that will really have no problems switching to another sport even though they like hockey.

JG: Back in 2005 the salary cap was the big hurdle. This time it doesn’t sound like there are as many contentious issues. Do you get that sense as well?

RW: I don’t think that it’s on the same level as ’05. So my thought process the whole time has been, especially for myself finishing last year like I did, I just want to be starting on time and I think that every player does. And I’ve also thought that if we don’t I think that at most there will be a month, a month and a half. I think that last year guys know that there was a chance that we were going to miss a whole year and I haven’t hear that mention from anyone.


JG: What do you know of Justin Schultz and how exciting was that for you when a young free agent choose your organization over 29 others?

RW: I think it’s huge and the fact that the Oilers got a highly touted guy that really had his chance to go anywhere was such a big thing for the organization and the team. I’ve heard that he’s a great kid that really has the potential to be a star so to get that young defenceman on the blue line to complement those young forwards. It’s really important for us.

JG: You’re a left handed shooting defenceman, he’s a right handed shooter, a lot of people have looked and projected that maybe he’ll play with you or maybe he plays with Nick Schultz. Have you had any conversations at all with Ralph Krueger; do you start thinking about who your defence partner is going to be this year?

RW: No, I’ve just spoke to Ralph once. I offered him congratulations when he got the job, and then he called me a couple of weeks later. We didn’t get into it that much, we just talked about the team and how excited he is to coach and what he wants to do. I didn’t get any requests in for my partner (laughs) by any means. It would definitely be exciting to be able to play with the kid if he’s that young and that skilled.

JG: From that conversation with Krueger, how do you think he’s going to coach?

RW: Offensively just knowing how much talent we have up front, we’re going to be a very quick team, very high paced and play some very quick up tempo hockey. Defensively his biggest thing is everyone is responsible and no one is taking shifts off, and everyone needs to know and accept their role because that is the only way that we can get going as a team.

JG: Do you think that he has the “hard-ass” element that is necessary for any NHL coach?

RW: Yeah, I really do think that he does. He had the ability to kind of snap and that was something that we had the opportunity to see individually as players last year. That was pretty important I think for us, just to know that by no means is he a pushover. He expects a lot out of the guys and we’re going to have to be ready to play and practise every day.

JG: You look at this blue line and I think it’s fair to say that when healthy you’re the number one defender on the team. Now you’re healthy for the first time in a long time. Have you had the conversations with Ralph about what you want your role to be on this team?

RW: We really haven’t gotten into that too much. He just kind of told me that he’s really happy that I’ve been able to train all summer, and I’m training hard, and he’s looking forward to having me and coaching me at camp and helping me develop and having me do what I’m good at. I think that we’re both really going to get along well and if I deserve to play a lot of minutes I will. He seems to be a very fair coach.

JG: You used the word fair to describe Krueger. Is that ultimately what you want out of any coach?

RW: I think that they let you know where you are in their mind and if you’re playing badly they won’t mind telling you, and when you’re good occasionally you get to hear that. So I think that you’re going to know where you stand with Ralph and what he’ll he expect out of you. That’s so important that each guy knows what the coach wants out of them. When there’s a grey area, things become difficult.


JG: If you ever got married and had kids would you name your daughter Destinee?

RW: Destinee is not a name that I’m looking at when I do have a daughter, especially with a last name like Hooker. That is a little bit of an odd choice I tweeted out. But I think that Destinee with any last name kind of screams probably having a job that your parents might not necessarily be proud of.

JG: When you’re watching the Olympics what sport do you like watching the most?

RW: I really enjoy watching the volleyball actually, the men’s volleyball and the indoor volleyball. Those guys are just unbelievable athletes. I think that the biggest thing is that all of those athletes are basically making money or they’re not making money, they put so much time and effort into just a one moment performance for four years. I love watching the Olympics because I think that it’s been a pretty special one in London this year.

JG: Which event or sport in the Olympics would you most likely like to excel at?

RW: I think that track and field would be cool. Just seeing Usain Bolt the other night, it was almost an electric moment; he had such an aura around him. To see that many people around the world watching him in that race and to be known as the fastest man on the planet would be pretty special.

JG: If you guys had a sprint like that off of the ice, which one of the Oilers do you think is the fastest?

RW: I’m going to say Hallsy. He’s got that speed on ice, he does a lot of track work, he gets those arms really flying and I could see him going pretty well. Definitely wouldn’t be Ebs, I know that. Horc would be pretty good; he does a lot of track work in the summer. Right now I have to go with Hallsy, but I haven’t seen Yakupov and I’ve heard that he’s pretty quick himself.              

JG: Speaking of Eberle, is his putting as bad as you said it was on Twitter?

RW: It’s atrocious. I really honestly stay awake at night sometimes thinking how a guy with hands that good on the ice could be that bad of a putter. So I’ve told him many times (laughs) and he obviously doesn’t like hearing it, but it’s something that really kind of boggles my mind.


I wrote earlier this week that Devan Dubnyk’s play would have the biggest impact on the Oilers playoff aspirations, and I will put Whitney second on that list.

The Oilers have enough skilled forwards that if one falters, another one will pick up the slack, but the Oilers aren’t blessed with a plethora of top-pairing defencemen. Whitney is the Oilers only proven top-pairing defender, and if they want to be in the hunt come March then he’ll need to stay healthy and be productive.

Since coming over from the Ducks I mentioned Whitney has tallied 58 points in 105 games. In the 183 games the Oilers have played since Whitney joined them, he’s missed 78, they haven’t been blessed with a lot of offensive production from their backend.

Whitney:     58 points in 105 games.
Gilbert:       62 points in 147 games.
Petry:          30 points in 108 games.
Smid:         25 points in 156 games.
Foster:       22 points in 74 games.
Potter:        21 points in 62 games.
Peckham: 16 points in 125 games.
Vandermeer: 14 points in 62 games.
Sutton:         10 points in 52 games.
Chorney:      4 points in 17 games
N.Schultz:    4 points in 20 games.
Strudwick:   2 points in 43 games.
Barker:         2 points in 25 games.
Teubert:       1 point in 6 games.
Petiot:           0 points in 2 games.
Rodney:       0 points in 1 game.

With Gilbert gone it is clear the Oilers don’t have any established offensive D-men other than Whitney. Jeff Petry and Justin Schultz have potential to produce, but the Oilers can’t go into the season expecting them to be top-pairing defenders and put up points.

Whitney is crucial to the Oilers success and his return to the gym and on-ice training this summer has to be looked at as a positive for the Oilers.

Krueger’s job as head coach will be much easier, if Whitney is back playing 25+ minutes a night this season.

  • justDOit

    Such a fine player before he got hurt.
    Good to hear he’s feeling much healthier.
    Good news is that in final two months of season, his underlying scoring chance numbers reflected a real uptick in his game.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Whitney’s points and play on the powerplay two years ago were just stupid. If he can get back to even close to that form, with the talent up front, a lot of questions answer themselves. Hope he has regained a lot of what he lost, because for large parts of last year that ankle made him a turnstile defensively and he had absolutely no confidence offensively.

  • Chilly Canadian

    All I ever hear about Whitney is fans ripping him for being soft and slow. As an actual Oilers fan I hope he comes back to form. Before he was hurt he was ripping it up on the blueline…just imagine the skill up front with him and Schultz 2.0 on the blue line!

    • Stack Pad Save

      I heard Yakupov grew like 5 inches this summer and put on something like 40 pounds; Hall’s shoulder is already done healing and he is training full time; Eberle under went experimental psychological testing and they determined that his hockey IQ was mensa level; RNH had his eyes checked and his sight is something like 100 x better than the average human beings…

  • Chilly Canadian

    Great news, It would seem that things are finally starting to fall in place for the Oil. Now we just need to find a way to rid them of Bulin and get,at the very least, a proper backup.

  • Dutchscooter


    In front of DD pro rated season.
    Petry paired w/ Smid
    Petry 45P season pace
    Smid 18P season pace.
    2.19GA .930SV% +25 season pace

    Whitney Paired w/ N. Schultz
    Whitney 50P season pace
    N. Schultz 20P season pace
    2.17GA .928SV% +25 Season pace

    I would be ok with that for 65 games next year.


  • Whitney sure sounds a lot more optimistic then he did last year. Let’s all hope he is able to regain his full form.

    If he is pain free and has a full summer of training we should be able to expect a huge improvement from last year and dream of a fully recovered bonafide #1Dman leading this team without giving up any assets in trade.

    I can’t wait for training camp!

  • If Whitney is 100% our D looks good this year before injuries and with the young D prospects making there way into the NHL over the next couple of years it could end up being a position of strength.

    Whitney-N Schultz


    Sutton-J Schultz


    Whitney-J Schultz


    Klefbom-N Schultz

    With this last combination if klefbom was deemed ready you could keep the D pairings in tact for the PP and Whitney and J Schultz would be a pretty big threat from the back end!
    It introduces 2 rookies into the lineup at the same time, but if they are ready and paired with solid vets it would sure be exciting to watch.

  • MrCondor

    His first pass dropped my jaw multiple times last year. The ability to put the puck on the stick of a player in full stride 100ft away is incredible, and he does it often.

    If his foot speed recovers, we have a hell of a weapon.

  • Jason Gregor

    Lets hope he regains most of his previous form.
    But suggesting he play 25 min, is a bit much. Hopefully J.Schultz is good enough early that he can take up some of the offensive slack.I think less minutes might add up to more quality play from him.Schultz, Petry and Whitney are the only hope for offense from the back end. [ Potter could be one if he could improve his defensive part of the game ].

  • DieHard

    Its funny but I was thinking a week or so ago about what were the key variants for Oiler success this season and concluded Dubnyk’s performance was Number One and Whitney’s health and performance was Number 2.
    In my mind Number 3 will be how successful RK is in getting the team to play bigger and tougher.

    Your columns of Dubnyk and Whitney have both been excellent and reading about how well Whitney’s work outs are going made my day. The performances of these two are crucial in the short term but even more important in the long-term.

  • DieHard

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Oiler’s most vulnerable portion of their defence is the play of the tenders. Dubnyk has to be the guy whom takes that big step forward and win games for them when in fact, they had no buisness winning. If Dubnyk steals some games (4 or 5)that alone can have a very progessive affect on the entire team. Tender plays good to great, the team itself will follow up with an overall improvement. Yes, this is just my opinion but one I believe does have a solid foundation.

    Front end, this team will be at the least, good. Dubnyk has more importance to his play than ever before in his career. He has to be the “go to guy” for the Oil in order for the team to see any success in terms of possibly making the playoffs????

    Naysayers can post all of the negatives they wish, but this Oil fan sees the positives in this team and awaits what very well could be the best year this team has had in years and best for the fans by far!

  • DieHard

    Scoreing goals wether it is from the front or back end is a system generated dynamic,Whitneys points are not usually system generated believe it or not,his skill level and vision allow him to control the play so well that he stalls the system itself if it is a momentum based system,in a set play system he is lethal and in his element.

    I respect what this player brings to the ice every night and recognise that he is in the top 5 in the NHL in d-men who can quarterback your entire system from the back end like Whitney can do.But to quarterback a system from the back end it must be a hybrid system,and this is why Whitney struggled so much last year,i dont subscribe to the injury theory,the reality was he struggled mightily to return to form,but when he did he entered back into a system that had evolved into a momentum based system via Moma2s NewAge Hockey System that I as the creator presented to the Oilers on their website.The team had found consistant sucess playing a possesion-transition style of game.The catalysing reasons for this style being adopted were a combonation of not haveing Whitney to operate the hybrid system from the back end and the sheer number of young guys that forced us to simplify our game and use all the zones generateing three transitions most times—remember with Whitney his passing oftentimes eliminates one of those transitions,he is so good.Problem is we were maximiseing those transitions and winning most of our games that way,but no one had recognised this accept me,I was laughing because I had been pumping my NewAge System to the Oilers for 2 yrs on their website and was suppressed then finally out of sheer necessity and circumstance they were doing it on their own.

    When Whitney returned the entire coaching staff reverted back to the style we were playing before we lost him,THE HYBRID,and as soon as we did that ,we turfed the entire season,the technical dynamics are simple but long on the explanation so suffice to say that I drop the ball at the coaches feet last year for initiateing this dynamic with the teams system.

    Whitney has good enough footspeed,and is mobile enough when he is tuned into a system that forces him to skate,we just never really asked him to skate,then when we did he was lost because he didnt understand the system enough to improvise his decision makeing with the puck under pressure,as soon as we switched back to a possesion-transition stlye he was lost as he had no set outlets and no time to operate,he was out of tune and didnt know when to skate up of hold back,it was a tough sell.

    It was clear after watching Potters sucess in a possesion-transition style that gave us consistant wins that Whitneys lack of sucess upon his return was due to the team being caught in a transitional system switch they didnt have time to prepare for,we were winning games so we couldnt collectively just stop doing all the little things that were giveing us wins,so when whitney came back and the coaching staff tried reverting to the system that we were useing when Whitney was healthy,the team couldnt let go of the winning habits soon enough and we began a tailspin,the coaches didnt recognise the conflict and things got worse,we kept throwing Whitney to the wolves,he was trying to initiate his set play quarterbacking plays but the team was still trying to utilise three transitions because that was winning games for them,there was an “issue”obviously.

    By the time the coaches tuned in to the NewAge System and its core values and recognised what had happened we were already done for the year,but at least they tried to fight out of it,by asking Whitney to play a possesion-transition style of game which exposed him dreadfully,the injury /lack of mobility story doesnt fly when you are as talented as he is,he is top 5 in the league at his speciality,he was simply miscast by the coaching staff at the worst possible time,communication teamwise was at an alltime low and we were challenged.The winning we had experienced was pulling the players in a winning direction by proxy and the coaches haveing miscalculated the reasons for our early sucess–attributeing it to defense–were actually pulling the team backwards to a more defensive system—which ultimately led to the loss of our playoff shot,and put Whitney in an unfortunate and non-complimentary position.If we put him in the same situation again his performance will be the same again injury recovery or not,it was an unfortunate dynamic situation that threw him for a loop,not he himself–he played alright hockey,the system was not in tune at all because there was a transition ocurring when he returned and he got hung out to dry a little .

    If we start the year useing the NewAge System and Whitney is versed in it and shown how to integrate his game effectively into the system he will set a career high points total this year, heres the key for newAge System sucess for Whitney—recieve the first pass from your partner laterally and ten or more feet upice{Peckham is very adept at this pass} so you can still initiate three transitions,but you can still use your best assets,by drawing the forechecker to you, because you are already up=ice you can pass on a dime or instantly like only you and a few others can do in the NHL–into the first transition as we need –this allows you to quarterback as per system direction as opposed to your own decision makeing on the first pass–without slowing the first transition down by drawing the forchecker all the way back.If you use this tactic and your first transition pass is back to a streaking Justin Schultz we will see a LOT of highlight reel plays,but if we go back to the hybrid you will need to sit back behind the net again,if Whitney needs any help and we do by some chance play the NewAge System this year,I will personally help him understand the systems core values,I CREATED the NewAge Hockey System for the Oilers specificly,and whitneys skillset and vision are elite and tailormade for it,he sees the ice like only a few Oilers can see it.If we have to play the hybrid to keep him,I say make a trade,but if we play the NewAge System with Whitney quarterbacking via sytem induced dynamics then we should see a career year from him and anyone who knows his career high should be excited .A talent like this has never really been showcased in a system like the NewAge System.And his introduction last year made him reasses areas he is fine in,it was a situational dynamic nightmare but i saw Whitney trying to work on everything and I bought into him on every level—after bashing him repeatedly indirectly on the Oilers site in the process of criticiseing the Coaches and management—he was caught in a wicked crossfire–not his fault or doing.In fact it was the Oilers trying out the NewAge System that got him spun around again after his return,once they realised the dive was terminal they got desperate and started initiateing the NewAge System out of desperation,and wha la,they began to right the ship,to late to save it but it sank upright.

    You see the team inadvertantly set a series of NewAge System core values into their hybrid system at the beginning of the year,it was an ACCIDENT OF CIRCUMSTANCE that we won so much—-it was because we were playing a possesion/transition game not because of team defense .And when the dive became terminal and the coaches tried to figure out what happened and regain their form they were LUCKY to have me on their website screaming up a storm and getting banned several times in the process then walking them into the NewAge Hockey System a POSSESION/TRANSITION SYSTEM-holding their hand on game day threads,makeing sure they got it right.

    Unfortunately jarret Stoll and Colin Fraser and other ex-oilers also read the Oilers site from time to time,this is fact because LA began initiating exact system adjustments and core value additions in a parallel course to my posting for the Oilers,Jarret was tipped off and listened,look where it took him.Mr.Sutter had no idea where his system changes came from.I do and so does Jarret Stoll.

    I am the creator of the NewAge Hockey System,a brand new innovative system which contributed to a Stanley Cup championship in its innaugural year,last year.It also contributed to the barons playoff sucess.I have repeatedly asked to be validated by the Oilers and teams like LA who have used my system and I have been denied,nevertheless,this is my system,I created it,and I only released a small portion of its functional core values and tactics in the last two years.

    There is a lot more to add and it is players like Whitney with good communication and negotiation skills that will get this dynamic straightened out in the Oilers favor,I created this superior and new system FOR THE OILERS and am still seeking validation,either all i say is not relevant or all i say IS relevant,Whitney would know which is true and hopefully act on that data in a proactive manner.I am still available in spite of the Oilers lack of recognition or thank yous.

    I asked what was up with Whitney last year when I should have been asking what was up with the management team,I corrected myself quickly back then,Whitney was collateral damage in my attempts to wake up the Oilers coaches and management.Now lets play ball before the season starts and we try playing an adjusted hybrid like LA used last year,they only had a small percentage of my system data to work with as did the Oilers,I can give the Oilers the ENTIRE SYSTEM,and show them how to abandon the hybrid completely,and why they should.I can show them how to feast on teams that play hybrids or as LA did last year adjusted hybrids{they injected some NewAge System core values into their existing hybrid,because the pieces fit they thought they had the whole gameplan—not so—they just had the core values of the “base”of the NewAge System}I specificly put my system data on-line to allow all teams to acess it–because i only released minor parts,generic parts,of my systems form and function.I saved the majority of my NewAge System data for the Oilers specificly.best part is that once teams playing the hybrid emulate LAs sucess and “adjust”their hybrids–they will be setting themselves up for the team that plays the complete NewAge System,ask yourself why it seemed like LA kept winning goals on spectacular individual efforts??Then come ask me why.Because they didnt know how to inject offense into the NewAge Systems “base”,they could initiate a system check-mate with a hybrid and come out on top but barely,they werent winning by scoreing system induced goals they had to win on hero individual efforts–consistantly–because it was a system requirement,I can remove that system requirement and add full out offense to the exact system {NewAge System “base”}LA used to win the cup last year,guaranteed–because it is my system ,I created the NewAge Hockey System.I just havent found an intrepid enough reporter yet to get this story straight and documented.I have watched a lot of Coaches and Players avoiding system related questions surrounding the NewAge System and its results.I have many game day thread examples of timely and exact system adjustments executed in a reactionary manner according to my online posts dureing games.I have had NHL head coaches quote me verbatim in the media after my online posts.I have seen reporters and analysts hitting close to the source with their questions but they are clueless,one good story by a reputed reporter and we are off to the races.I can even tell you exactly which LA king first found and utilised my NewAge System data by illustrateing him executeing the systems core values on the ice in a parallell path to my releaseing the data,right on cue over and over,the same player.

    So Mr.Whitney ,if you are out there,use your toolbag and come up with a viable and equitable solution here,I require validation by the Oilers as the source of their NewAge System data and the Oilers need the rest of the system data.And mentoring.I can easily predict our season path if we come out and try to establish a shineing defense like from the beginning of last year that really didnt exist even then.We will compete all year,not win but compete,if we focus on the NewAge System and its core values we will play a possesion/transition game and we will win more than we lose.No coaching staff I have seen yet can turn a hybrid into a possesion/transition team,so things will be clearcut from the first 5 games on,either we are gunning for it and playing the newAge System as accurately as we can execute it as close to the source as we can be ,or,we are playing an adjusted hybrid as LA did,and only utiliseing two core value facets of the NewAge System to jack up our hybrid.I will toss this in for good measure,Sams big night was not a fluke,it was NewAge System induced,Sam and the team were following some core value guidance that night and the results showed,it is easily repeatable.The dynamics were all system induced,Sam just knew what to look for and expect.

    I cleared things up for you Whitts,you may clear things up for me now if you like.