Ryan Whitney was my guest on the Jason Strudwick Show last week. The big, skilled defencemen is an assistant captain with the Edmonton Oilers.
Strudwick: What have you been doing to stay busy during the lockout?
Whitney: Not a lot. We skate in the morning. Mostly Bruins and a few of us from other teams get together three or four times a week. We work out before and after the skate.
It is getting a little cold for golf! Ha! It can be boring but good to see and spend time with family at home this time of year. But it is miserable not to be playing hockey right now.
Strudwick: You have battled injuries the last couple years, 86 games played the last two years, has the lockout given you a chance to get healthy?
Whitney: Feels good to get a full summer of training in. Feels good to just be skating every day and not rehabbing injuries. After a lot of injuries you don’t always feel like you did when you were younger but as an older player you readjust to your "new normal".
Strudwick: How important is a full summer of training?
Whitney: Two summers in a row I couldn’t do any leg training. Certain things hold you back from getting quicker and stronger. After this great summer of training it is nice to get back to good blocks of training.
Strudwick: Taylor Hall was on the show and he was wondering if you even know where the lower body equipment is located in the gym and not just the upper body equipment?
Whitney: Ha! He used to chirp my skinny legs but he has those huge lips!! Ha!Ha!
Strudwick: What are your thoughts on the current CBA negotiations? Were you frustrated with the owners’ first proposal?
Whitney: That first offer was a slap in the face! If they made their most recent offer in the summer we would be playing right now. The first offer was so bad it didn’t give us, the NHLPA, as place to start, you just couldn’t. The NHLPA tried to make a starting point offer but they wanted no part of it. We are battling a group that is very tight lipped and doesn’t want to negotiate. They just present offers and then say ‘take it or leave it.’
Strudwick: Do you have interest or plan on playing in Europe?
Whitney: I am going to wait on that for now. I have been skating with Sidney Crosby’s group every three weeks. They are great skates for now. Almost like a regular NHL tempo. I will look towards Europe after Thanksgiving. I have received strong interest from the KHL but I don’t plan on going there. I miss playing right now and I have also missed a lot of playing time. Getting insurance to cover you while you go to Europe is very hard as well and expensive.
Strudwick: Thoughts on former teammate Sidney Crosby?
Whitney: Imagine a hard worker’s work ethic and then multiply that effort by ten! He is the best player in the world. He is the best and still looks for areas to improve on his game every year. It is very impressive!
Strudwick: The last lockout was your first year as a professional, what impact did that year have on your career?
Whitney: It was my rookie year pro, I played in Wilkes-Barres/Scranton. There was no pressure to be called up. It was great to enjoy and just play the game. Everyone is the same age. It is when I learned to be a pro, what kind of work ethic the game requires and little tricks to make the game easier. For our guys down in OKC, that group will get to feel what it is like to win together, something they haven’t experienced a lot of yet. I wouldn’t mind going to play with them all!
Strudwick: Will you be giving advice to Justin Schultz this year?
Whitney: After talking to Hallsy and Eberle it sounds like I will be asking him for advice! They speak very highly of him. I think it is great that we signed him and I am really looking forward to playing with him.
Strudwick: What do you think Smid is doing playing at home right now?
Whitney: He is probably yelling at his mom for dinner! He is a great guy with so much energy! He is easily one of everyone’s favorite guys on the Oilers.
Strudwick: You have some experience as a member of the media, having spent time on the TSN panel. Do you have any advice for me?
Whitney: Yeah, I do! Stay on the radio! They don’t need your bad hair on TV! I have listened to your show and your voice is too high as well! Bring it down a few octaves!
It is great to hear that Whitney feels healthy and strong again. There is nothing worse than battling injuries and rehabbing all the time. You never get into a rhythm and your play suffers.
The combination of Whitney and Justin Schultz on the point for the power play will make a dynamic man advantage even better. The Oilers are starting to build up weapons. It will be nice for new head coach Ralph Kruger.