Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney was at his home in Boston on Thursday morning. He had returned home to be with his mother,
On a 10-minute conference call from Boston, Whitney said Thursday that he was at first surprised when he found out he would be joining the Anaheim Ducks.
Whitney has never played with any current Duck at any level of organized hockey. He has never played in Southern California outside the Penguins’ couple visits to Staples Center and Honda Center. He was born in Boston, still lives there, and his reaction to playing in California was fairly indicative of his roots: “I’ll buy more shorts and stuff like that.”
He also wanted make clear that this season – in which he’s amassed two goals, 11 assists and a minus-15 rating in 28 games – is not reflective of his game. Whitney missed the first 31 games of the season after undergoing foot surgery on August 15, 2008, a recovery that “still has a way to go strength-wise,” he said.
“I’m getting strength back slowly but surely,” Whitney said. “It feels better than it did this time last year.”
The former first-round draft pick also talked about getting his confidence back, a process that began when he looked at who the Penguins were getting in return – Chris Kunitz and former second-round pick Eric Tangradi.
“They want me,” Whitney said of the Ducks. “They gave up a good player and a real good prospect.”
Whitney’s confidence could jolt skyward if the Ducks aren’t done dealing. General manager Bob Murray recently told the Orange County Register that he is listening to offers for all-star defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. If Whitney ends up as a replacement rather than a complement to either player, he will face even more pressure to live up to the last four years of his contract (at $4 million per year) than he did in Pittsburgh.
“I put pressure on myself to play well and be a great player. Coming to a new team, i want to play well,” he said. “I want to be part of this team for a long time.”