After 22 seasons in the National Hockey League, Ray Whitney is hanging up the skates. The 42-year-old forward was born in Fort Saskatchewan and went on to become one of the NHL’s most unheralded players, having put up consistent numbers without a lot of the recognition that goes with it.
“For the past 23 years I have had the privilege of earning my living playing hockey in the National Hockey League,” Whitney said. “Along the way I have made countless memories and friendships, which I will always cherish. Every city I played in, the fans welcomed my family and me with open arms, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.”
Whitney spent his junior years with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs before going to be drafted by the San Jose Sharks at 23rd overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. He was the second player ever drafted by the franchise, with Pat Falloon going first.
It took the next couple seasons for Whitney to gel on the Sharks and it took a little longer for him to form into a solid player. He had his best season in San Jose in 1995-1996 when he landed with 41 points in 60 games.
From there, Whitney’s career took him through Edmonton, Florida, Columbus, and even Detroit before settling in Carolina with the Hurricanes. He signed a two year deal with the team in August of 2005 and led them to their first Stanley Cup. In 24 playoff games, he had 15 points – including nine goals.
After hoisting hockey’s ultimate prize, Whitney remained in Carolina for the next few years and quietly amassed goals. He scored 32 goals in the 2006-2007 season and followed that up by scoring at least 20 for each of the following three years as a Hurricane.
Whitney then found himself in Phoenix with the Coyotes, where he again put up solid numbers. He scored 24 goals and added 53 assists in the 2011-2012 campaign before he was sent to the Dallas Stars.
And now, it’s over. Whitney is one of hockey’s most unsung heroes and that counts for a lot. He put up 1,064 points in 1,330 career regular season games and added an impressive 53 points in 108 post-season contests. His humour and love for the game made him a vital presence in the locker room, while the Wizard’s tenacity and skill on the ice was (and is) all too rare.