Skip to main content

Ray Whitney

In the 1980s Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers rewrote the NHL record book en route to establishing a Stanley Cup dynasty.  Gretz, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr and the entire gang were long retired by the turn of the century, but did you know who were the final two members of that dynasty to be playing in the National Hockey League?

Yes, this is a trick question.

In 1987 the Oilers hired three local youth hockey players to alternate as stick boys. One was none other than Ray Whitney, 15 at the time. Another was Ray's brother Dean. And the third was an 11 year old kid named Ryan Smyth. The three also worked Team Canada's 1987 Canada Cup training camp in Banff, too.

In the 2000s Ray Whitney and Ryan Smyth were still enjoying the insider benefits of a National Hockey League dressing room. Only for much of those two spanned decades they have been playing the game rather than handling sticks. They were the ones signing autographs rather than collecting them.

Everyone was a Ryan Smyth fan, if not for his long and classy run as the face of the post-dynasty Oilers then for his unending devotion to Team Canada. With his jersey half tucked and his unique crossovers, his skating very much reminded us of Wayne Gretzky. But it was his fearless drives to the net that kept him in the NHL.

Whitney long thrived as wily puck handler with tremendous poise and vision, despite his obvious lack of size. He was a shifty wizard on skates, creating space for himself expertly. He possessed a tricky shot, but he was always primarily a playmaker. The last original San Jose Shark still playing, he may be best known for playing with the Carolina Hurricanes

For 9 games in 1997 he, too, joined Ryan Smyth and skated with the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers waived Whitney back then, figuring he was not good enough to stick with the team at that point. This despite parts of 5 years of NHL experience with the San Jose Sharks. As disappointing as being waived must have been, it was a blessing in disguise for young Whitney. The Florida Panthers picked him up and for the next three years he was challenging 30 goals and 70 points a season. 

After short but productive stays in Columbus and Detroit, Whitney landed in Carolina for five seasons. The undeniable highlight of that run was the 2006 Stanley Cup championship. Interestingly, Carolina met Ryan Smyth and the Edmonton Oilers in that memorable 7 game series.

It was just the latest in the intertwined lives of two Edmonton Oilers stick boys turned NHL stars name Ray Whitney and Ryan Smyth. 


Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M