Jackets 20: ‘The Wizard’ Ray Whitney
His time in Columbus was brief but he left an impact.
Welcome to Jackets 20, a series which celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Columbus Blue Jackets by profiling 20 of the most important players from the first two decades. Today, we remember one of the first notable players and captains in franchise history, Ray Whitney.
I talked about Jody Shelley when I did my first Jackets 20 post a few weeks ago. Aside from Shelley, Geoff Sanderson and Ray Whitney were the other two players my mind often gravitated towards, specifically as it pertains to the first notable players the team had in franchise history.
It’s only appropriate that our last article in the series highlighted Sanderson (You can check out PD’s writing here) and I’m going to get into the contributions that Whitney had.
A two-time NHL All-Star spanning touches of 23 years in the league, Whitney was with the Jackets from their inception, only participating in three games in 2000-01 following a trade for Kevyn Adams from the Panthers. He would go on to be the Columbus’s leading scorer with 21 goals and 61 points in 2001-02, and 24 goals, 76 points in 2002-03.
It was in 2003 with Columbus that Whitney represented the team and Western Conference with his second-career All-Star appearance in Sunrise, Florida. He was also Columbus’s second-ever All-Star after Espen Knutsen in 2002. Whitney also donned the ‘A’ and ‘C’ each of the three years he skated for Columbus.
He signed for four years with the Red Wings following the 2003 season but ended up getting traded to the Hurricanes prior to the 2005-06 season where he won the Stanley Cup.
A look back
Games played: 1,330
Penalty Infraction Minutes: 465
Power Play Goal: 112
Power Play Points: 423
Game-Winning Goals: 45
Playoff Games: 108
Playoff Goals: 21
Playoff Assists: 32
Playoff Points: 53
Playoff Game-Winning Goals: 5
Whitney eclipsed the 70-point plateau five times in his career including a career-best 83 points in 2006-07. He also tied a career-high with 32 goals and a had personal best, 51 assists, that same season.
Kind of a funny
During my research of ‘The Wizard’ I stumbled across this Washington Post article from 2003 titled MacLean Draws Raves In Columbus which I found interesting. Now, we all know MacLean’s tenure in Columbus was below average in terms of results translating into success on the ice. However, we’ve had many guests on The Cannon Cast echo a positive sentiment that MacLean has provided in some fashion or another.
Of course the particular article about Whitney on MacLean could have been nothing more than ‘leadership lip service’ and it was only a handful amount of games of ‘playing hard’ up to that point.
But by all accounts Whitney was a very positive guy and one that probably could have helped the Blue Jackets a bit longer had things played out differently.
Blue Jackets Marks
Though he only spent a few seasons in Columbus, Whitney is second in franchise-history in points-per-game (0.93), assists-per-game (0.63), and he scored his only Blue Jackets hat trick in a 3-1 win against the Kings Feb. 27. 2003. He scored a natural hat trick in 2007 in just 1:40 with the Hurricanes.
I know it was so long ago now but does anyone have any fond Whitney memories from the early days?