Everybody sit down, this may come as a great shock to you but Ryan Whitney does not have an NHL contract right now.
Alright, to 95% of Oiler fans, NHL observers, and dogs over the size of 30 lbs it probably isnt a shock that Whitney doesnt have a job in the NHL. But there is one high profile Edmonton scribe, who happens to also be in the Hockey Hall of Fame, who really is beside himself about the trouble Whitney is having.
Jim Matheson is an Edmonton sports journalism legend who has watched the game professionally since before I was born. And yet somehow he doesnt understand why the NHL has very little interest in Whitney at this stage of his career.
Matheson’s response to that obviously misguided tweet is here. In it he quotes 5 people who replied to him on twitter but refuses to properly attribute them at all, so as far as we know he could have made them up. He also points out that not long ago the fans turned on Souray, and he turned out to be a perfectly serviceable player.
Yes, the fans (some of them) turned on Souray, but it wasnt because of his play or his contract. People turned on Souray because he spoke out against management. Fast forward a few years and it’s obvious maybe more people should have listened to his criticism of management. His situation is completely different than Whitney.
Whitney’s ability to defend is questionable at best these days because he simply cant move around the ice well enough. This isnt even a foot-speed issue either, he cant turn. Whitney suffered by eye and by numbers. His CorsiRel was the worst on the team by a mile. He was -12.4 when the next worst was -2.8. Quite frankly he is completely unreliable back there.
Then of course there’s the fact that he blamed his own deficiencies on the troubles of his own team. As if to say he was bad because the team was bad. Well the Oilers and 29 other teams seem pretty convinced that maybe it was Whitney who was making the Oil bad and not the other way around. And just maybe seeing a player with diminished abilities blame the club that played him in almost every game despite going against their best interests has left a bad taste in the mouths of prospective NHL employers.
Still that leaves us with Jim Matheson who inexplicably has become blind to the obvious. Whitney was a good quote and had a good sense of humour. He was an “older” player on a team full of young men. If the reason that Matheson cant see the facts about Whitney’s game is because he latched on to his personality then Matty has bigger problems. At some point the game passes people by. I hope it hasnt passed Matheson.