Ray Whitney, an original draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 1991 who carved out a 22-year career across the league playing for eight franchises, announced his retirement from the NHL today. Whitney, 42, spent last season with the Dallas Stars, but he did not sign a contract in the 2014 offseason and today's announcement was largely a formality.
Nicknamed the Wizard, Whitney played 1,330 regular-season games in the NHL, more of which (372) came with the Canes than with any other franchise. Despite being waived (by Edmonton in 1997) and bought out (by Detroit following the 2005 lockout) earlier in his career, Whitney found a home with the Canes, where he played for five seasons and was a key contributor on the Canes' 2006 Cup championship team.
His career-high 83 points came in the 2006-07 season with the Canes, and he scored 334 points in his career with Carolina, by far his highest number with any team. He attained the 1,000-point milestone in March of 2012, part of a two-point night in a Coyotes shutout of the Anaheim Ducks.
Whitney served as an alternate captain for four years with Carolina, memorably attempting to make an appearance in every pregame interview Tripp Tracy would conduct on the Canes' bench in the most irreverent way possible. Despite his well-known practical joker streak, Whitney commanded the respect of every locker room of which he was a part, assuming an elder statesman role with the Coyotes and Stars after leaving the Hurricanes in free agency in 2010.
In his statement, released through agency CAA Sports via ESPN's Pierre LeBrun, Whitney thanked those who contributed to his lengthy career, with one mention reserved for his championship teammates.
"For the past 23 years, I have had the privilege of earning my living playing hockey in the National Hockey League. 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.
"I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank all of my teammates and coaches, especially the 2006 Stanley Cup team in Carolina. I was lucky to have great agents at CAA Sports, who stood by me through the good times and the tough times. I want to say a special thank you to my parents, who gave me the chance to do what I loved.
"Finally, I want to thank my wife Brijet, and our three beautiful children, who have been incredibly supportive of me throughout my career. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to live my dream."
Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who plucked Whitney off the scrap heap in the 2005 offseason during his tenure as Carolina's GM, told LeBrun that Whitney was one of a kind.
"He was a key player on our Cup team in Carolina from his leadership to keeping the guys loose to scoring big goals for us. He was just a lot of fun to be around."
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