Whitney injury leaves void on Pens blue-line
Defenceman could miss first half of 2008-09 NHL season following foot surgery
Standout Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Ryan Whitney could miss the first half of next season recovering from foot surgery.
The procedure to correct a chronic foot problem was performed Friday in Charlotte, N.C., and is expected to sideline Whitney for three to five months.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review described the surgery as an osteotomy, defined as a procedure to shorten, lengthen or realign a bone or bones.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero said Whitney has been bothered by the foot problem for some time and tried to correct it with orthopedic inserts in his skates.
"I just couldn't live on one healthy foot anymore, let alone try to skate," Whitney told the Tribune-Review for Saturday editions. "We've tried everything to avoid surgery because we knew it would mean missing a chunk of the season, but nothing worked."
Whitney, 25, is entering the second year of a six-year contract worth $24 million US.
He had 12 goals and 28 assists for the Penguins in the 2007-08 regular season, followed by six points during the NHL team's run to the Stanley Cup finals, where they lost to Detroit in six games.
Whitney said his teammates knew his foot was in bad shape last season, but he doesn't consider it an excuse for his performance.
"I need to perform better than I did and I know that is the expectation," Whitney told the newspaper. "But I've always thought skating was the biggest part of my game, and last season I couldn't skate like I can."