Oilers Whitney back skating
ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency
|Edmonton Oilers' Taylor Hall and Ryan Whitney, right, pose with 11-year-old Aidan Penner during a visit to the children's ward at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital on Tuesday. Whitney, who has been out since mid-December with an ankle injury has resumed skating and is hopeful he may return before the end of the season. (Perry Mah, Edmonton Sun)
EDMONTON - Ryan Whitney can't help but wonder what if ... what if that one wrong step hadn't turned a career year into a wasted season.
One minute he's on pace to establish a personal benchmark for points, the next he's shutting it down in mid-December for ankle surgery while the team drops to 30th in the NHL standings.
And now he's finally back on the blades, taking the first baby steps on the road back.
"I think I'm ahead of schedule," said Whitney, who had a groove carved into the bone in his ankle so the dislocated tendon would sit better. "But I just skated two days and it's really sore."
It's possible that he would be able to play again before season's end, but it's not something anybody is pressing hard for.
"Who knows, maybe in two weeks it'll feel better, but right now I'd say unfortunately not."
Whitney had 27 points in 35 games for Edmonton and was somehow a staggering plus-13 on a team that was neck-deep in minus.
"It's just frustrating," he said. "I was on such a good pace offensively. Certain years you have that. I had a year like that in Pittsburgh (59 points in 2006-07).
"You can't expect I'll be on the same pace next year. I know I can play just as well next year, you just don't know if the stats will be there. It was nice to be on a roll like that."
He admits its been hard to watch what's happening to the team, especially lately in the wake of all the injuries.
"The nights they have really good efforts it's not bad. The nights that don't go really well, the game in Washington you feel bad. You wouldn't wish that upon anyone, losing games like that, it sucks. To know it's your buddies out there, you almost feel a little guilty. It's not fun to watch and it's way worse for them to be playing."