SUN Hockey Pool

No cryin' from Oil's Whitney

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:58 AM ET

ANAHEIM — The reception was cold.

Not quite up there in Chris Pronger proportions, but unpleasant just the same.

Every time Ryan Whitney touched the puck on Sunday, he was soundly booed by the Anaheim Ducks faithful.

“It’s just part of the game,” Whitney said. “It’s not a huge deal. I think it might have affected me a little different if it was a playoff game or something, but it was the last game of the year so it really wasn’t that big a deal.

“I was a little surprised, I don’t really remember what I said when I got traded, maybe I went a little overboard on some things, I don’t know.”

Whitney, 27, was sent to the Oilers in exchange for defenceman Lubomir Visnovsky at the trade deadline in March.

Despite seeing his team get hammered 7-2, the former first-round pick got some consolation in scoring a goal and adding an assist.

He finished the year with seven goals and 32 assists, making him the Oilers highest-scoring defenceman this season.

“It’s tough when you lose the last game pretty bad, although it’s nice to score,” he said. “It was a pretty disappointing game, though, and pretty typical of how this year has gone.

“But it’s on to next year and there are way better times ahead.”

Having emerged as one of the team’s top defencemen upon his arrival, Whitney is expected to be a big part of the Oilers’ future.

His play with Tom Gilbert was one of the few bright spots in a season gone horribly wrong.

The two were able to develop an instant chemistry and both became dangerous threats from the point.

“I’m glad we were able to finish strong,” Whitney said. “Going into the summer, that’s what you’re thinking about. I’m playing with a guy that makes it pretty easy out there. Ask anyone, when you’re playing with a good partner, it makes a world of difference.”

Regardless of his play, Whitney, much like the rest of the team, is glad to see this season come to an end so they can switch their focus to next year.

“There were no injuries out there, which sounds kind of stupid, but that’s a big thing. You don’t want a guy getting hurt and being out for five months in a game like this,” he said. “I’m really excited for next year with our draft pick and the young guys that are going to be here. It’s going to be a better year. It’s going to be really good.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca


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