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Whitney practices for first time with Pens

NHL.com @NHL
After foot surgery in the summer, three months of rehab and a month of skating, Penguins defenseman Ryan Whitney rejoined his teammates for practice for the first time since the Stanley Cup Final on Friday afternoon at Southpointe.

"It's pretty cool to think about being back with them," Whitney told the Penguins' official website on Thursday. "Just being out there at the beginning, skating around, the stretch in the middle – that's where you're talking to guys. You give each other crap here and there when you make a bad play. It's the little things you miss when you’re not with the team."

Practicing with the Penguins is the latest phase of Whitney's recovery process. He skated on his own and with strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar for the past month, but is still only in the early stages of a complete return.

"I won't be practicing the full (session)," Whitney said. "I don't think I'm ready for the physical stuff – the one-on-ones and things like that – but just getting back into the timing of passing the puck at this speed and those types of things. It's to start passing to guys, shooting the puck and getting flow. You have to get your timing back down. When you're out there by yourself there's no timing."

Whitney was paired with Mark Eaton during the practice session. Though his return to practice – even if it is only for a portion of practice – is an inspiring sign, his return to the lineup is still unknown.

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