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At the Rink blog

Whitney returns to St. Louis after being cut by Blues

Saturday, 10.05.2013 / 2:06 PM

By Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent / 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

ST. LOUIS -- Ryan Whitney's unfortunate exit from the St. Louis Blues turned into another opportunity with the Florida Panthers.

The 30-year-old defenseman, who came to the Blues in a professional tryout, was the victim of a numbers game and the obvious lowering of the NHL salary cap this season. It's something that hit many veteran players trying to find a job this year. But Whitney's strong camp in St. Louis helped him parlay that showing into a job with the Panthers, who signed him to a one-year contract on Sept. 29.

Whitney, who was in the Blues' locker room just last week, returns to face the group he barely got to know when the Panthers and Blues square off today at Scottrade Center.

"It's a business," Whitney said. "I had a real good time in camp here, a lot of good guys over there. But I was lucky enough to get signed by Florida after camp ended. I thought I had a good camp, so it's good to be here and getting to know these guys quick on the go because we're playing. It's a good group of guys and it's a fun room to be a part of."

Whitney is still adapting to the Panthers' system, but he's still grateful for the experience he earned in St. Louis' training camp.

"I think it was important I was playing exhibition games (with the Blues)," Whitney said. "I thanked (Blues general manager) Doug Armstrong when I left. It's good to be here now and hopefully we can build something here."

When the Blues let Whitney go without a contract, they didn't necessarily want to do so but had no choice. With seven defensemen already signed to one-way contracts, it was difficult to squeeze Whitney into the foray despite his solid showing, which is what the organization told him upon his exit.

"It's always good to have guys on your side. You can just tell being here that (Blues coach) Ken Hitchcock's a very good coach. He has guys organized and ready to play. That's the biggest thing," Whitney said. "Doug Armstrong's one of those guys who is real easy to talk to. Same with (Florida GM) Dale Tallon here and (head coach) Kevin Dineen. Everyone has been honest and that's all you can ask. I came here wanting to be over there, but now I'm here and I'm real happy."

Despite his short stay with the Blues, Whitney did manage to cultivate a strong rapport with players on the team. He'll keep that in mind in his return to St. Louis Saturday night. But probably not for very long.

"I knew going in it was going to be real tough. A lot of it was I needed to play exhibition games and happened to be seen by them. I knew it was important that I make a good impression," Whitney said. "I made some friends in there in a couple weeks, which is cool. It's a group that's easy to be a part of over there. After tonight, I wish them luck."

Here are the projected lineups for Saturday.

PANTHERS

Tomas Fleischmann - Marcel Goc - Kris Versteeg

Jonathan Huberdeau - Aleksander Barkov - Brad Boyes

Jesse Winchester - Scott Gomez - Tomas Kopecky

Scottie Upshall - Shawn Matthias - Krys Barch

Brian Campbell - Tom Gilbert

Ryan Whitney - Erik Gudbranson

Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Tim Thomas

Jacob Markstrom

Scratched: Drew Shore, Joey Crabb, Matt Gilroy

Injured: Nick Bjugstad (concussion), Steve Pinizzotto (hip), Ed Jovanovski (hip), Sean Bergenheim (groin).

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Brenden Morrow - Derek Roy - Chris Stewart

Jaden Schwartz - Patrik Berglund - Vladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir Sobotka - Maxim Lapierre - Ryan Reaves

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Jordan Leopold - Kevin Shattenkirk

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Brian Elliott

Scratched: Magnus Paajarvi, Adam Cracknell, Ian Cole

Injured: None

Once again, it shows character in this dressing room. Once again, there's no quitting in here. We all wanted this so bad and we worked so hard to get home-ice advantage and we weren't going to let this one slide.

— Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog on his team's OT Game 1 win vs. Minnesota Wild