In a surprise development, Pittsburgh Penguins’ defenseman Ryan Whitney underwent surgery on Friday to correct a left foot misalignment that he has secretly been dealing with for some time. The procedure, an osteotomy, is a surgical operation whereby bone is cut to shorten, lengthen, or change its alignment. It usually involves taking out a wedge of bone near a joint to correct the alignment and alleviate pain. The typical recovery time for a procedure like this is 3-5 months, which means (at a minimum) Ryan Whitney won’t play for the Penguins until mid-November.
According to Bob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Whitney “stunned” General Manager Ray Shero and Coach Michel Therrien when he revealed the problem to them during post season meetings and told them that he had pretty much played the whole season on one skate. Rossi noted that some teammates, including Siney Crosby and Brooks Orpik, were aware that Whitney was struggling with the problem during the season. Apparently Whitney had been dealing with the pain since the opening round of the 2007 playoffs against Ottawa. Despite the use of orthotics and other non-surgical alternatives, Whitney was unable to find relief from the problem. It is unclear whether the team training staff was cognizant of the full impact of Whitney’s condition on his skating ability.
As one of their top defensemen, the Penguins will certainly miss Ryan Whitney at the beginning of the season. However, the Penguins have developed significant depth at defense and will be starting training camp with 7 quality, proven d-men that include Sergei Gonchar, Mark Eaton, Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Hal Gil, Rob Scuderi and Darryl Sydor. There has been a lot of speculation that Darryl Sydor has requested a trade, and that options were being looked at. One might expect that the Whitney situation could alter any early movement of Sydor. Sydor’s fate may rest upon how well top prospect Alex Goligoski performs in training camp.