Defenseman Ryan Whitney was supposed to be healthy and productive this season for the go-go Edmonton Oilers. The veteran puck-mover was supposed to regain his old playmaking form now that he has finally moved past chronicle foot and ankle problems.
Whitney showed his full promise two seasons ago when he scored 27 points during a 35-game span. But last season he slipped from plus-13 that last to minus-16 last season. He started poorly – scoring just four points in his first 19 games – but finished with 16 points in his last 32 games.
This season he has been listless and sloppy. That ragged play earned him the night off from coach Ralph Krueger when the powerful Canucks came to visit.
Whitney received the message loud and clear.
“I’m not playing good enough,” he told Oilers.com. “I’m not happy about, but I respect it. I know I can play better.”
Krueger had this to say to the Edmonton broadcast team about the Whitney benching: ”My message to him was that he has some things to work on. My job is not a popular one.
“Adversity is an opportunity. Winning personalities come through in adverse situations . . . We have a very good defensive core . . . We feel that this group of six is best capable of playing against Vancouver.”
With Edmonton suddenly vulnerable at center due to the significant injuries to Shawn Horcoff and Eric Belanger, it’ll be interesting to see if Whitney’s surfaces in trade rumors.