-- As a connoisseur of fine wine, Ray Whitney
has a distinct appreciation for things that get better with age. How appropriate that his long, winding, NHL career has turned out to be a vintage collector's item as well.
Left Wing - PHX
GOALS: 24 | ASST: 51 | PTS: 75
SOG: 182 | +/-: 25
One month shy of turning 40, when most hockey careers have already withered on the vine, Whitney is savoring the bouquet of one of his best NHL seasons. The capper came Saturday when the Phoenix Coyotes
' forward set up linemate Radim Vrbata
for a second-period goal in a 4-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks
, becoming the 79th player in League history to reach 1,000 points.
Many of the players on that list played their entire career with one team – or at least have a particular franchise with which they are quickly associated. Not Whitney. The Coyotes are his seventh NHL team -- part of an odyssey that has seen him released, bought out, placed on waivers and traded in order to keep or acquire players who could only dream of matching his achievements.
"It hasn't been overly easy, I've had to earn what I've done," said Whitney, who over the summer, aware he needed 74 points to reach 1,000 – which would be one of his best seasons ever, boldly said he expected to get there. "There's been a couple of times where it didn't look like it was going to go on any further so this is something I'm very proud of."