by Lisa Brown on 11/25/11 at 02:30 PM ET
“Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I am thankful for family and so much more including being back in the lineup tomorrow and pretzel M&M’s.” That was a tweet that Oiler fans and media alike were happy to read yesterday afternoon from Ryan Whitey.
Whitney was out of the game since December 28th, 2010 due to an ankle injury and then didn’t play another game until October 18th this season. Unfortunately for Whitney, he suffered a knee injury his fourth game in on October 25th. A month later, Whitney is said to return to the Oilers lineup.
Although it is not by much that Whitney is the most veteran Oilers’ defenceman, Whitney is the team’s best defenceman. Whitney has 393 NHL games under his belt while Tom Gilbert has 358 and Ladislav Smid has 352. This is a strong contrast to Alex Plante and Jeff Petry who have both received calls up from Oklahoma City. Plante, Petry and all of the more junior, or prospect defenceman will benefit from working with Whitney both during games, and Oiler practices as well as watching him play.
According to Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal who travelled with the team, Renney has said of Whitney’s return “We have to keep this in perspective. He’s not going to play 24 minutes even if he wants to.” Whitney announced his return through twitter after a long discussion with Tom Renney at centre ice after the team skate on Thursday at Xcel Energy Center. Renney may have wanted Whitney to wait a little longer, but Whitney is obviously eager to get back to playing instead of watching.
For many, myself included, I thought that if the Oilers were to have a successful season it would hinge upon Devan Dubnyk taking the next step in his development and Ryan Whitney remaining healthy. Of course, the Oilers success so far has relied upon neither, but the season is only a quarter of the way in.
The Oilers have not won in Minnesota for what feels like forever. Hopefully Whitney’s return will inspire the team despite the odd afternoon timing of the game.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
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