Catching up with Ray Whitney

Dallas Stars forward Ray Whitney chatted briefly with some media members Thursday afternoon. Whitney was one of the team’s key additions in the offseason, signing a two-year, $9 million contract.

Whitney registered 77 points (24 goals, 53 assists) in 82 games for Phoenix last season, ranking 12th in the league in points, and earning Second-Team All-NHL honors.

Here are some of the highlights of what Whitney had to say.

On Thursday’s skate in Frisco, which was run by Texas Tornado coach Tony Curtale

“It’s not the full team yet, but having the junior coach out there is a benefit. It’s nice to have a whistle and have somebody draw the drills up, so we don’t have to explain it ourselves and go when we want to go. It’s nice to go on a whistle and bring our intensity level up a little bit.”

On what he learned from playing the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season with San Jose

“It’s been a long time since I went through that. I don’t remember much from that year to be honest with you, but what I do remember is that the teams that did get into a little bit of a slump never recovered from it. If you go through a stretch were you go 0-5 during that shortened schedule, you are probably not going to be able to recover from that. Losing one is one thing, losing two in a row is the most you can afford to do. Not getting off to a bad start is going to be big for everybody. It’s a pure sprint right to the finish here.”

On Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk crediting him for already assuming a leadership role on the team, and being someone who can provide assistance to captain Brenden Morrow

“Brenden is the type of captain – I don’t know this from experience but from what I’ve heard – he is a captain that is going to lead by example. He’s going to give you heart and soul every night. He’ll say what he has to say when he does, but I don’t know if he is a yeller or overly confrontational guy. Nor am I, but I’ve been around long enough to feel comfortable voicing my opinion. I thank Joe for thinking that, but if I’ve done anything I’ve made sure we’ve done a little extra skate like you saw today, that type of thing and letting everybody do their own thing. I am not a guy who says you have to do this or you have do that. I do believe that to have success you have to work, and put in a little extra. That’s the one thing I can try to convey to the guys – everybody in this league is good, it’s the ones that will push a little extra that get to the next level.”

On the Stars power play, which ranked last in the league last season

“I’ve looked at the stats and it’s not so much that the power play was 13 percent, and where it was in the league ranking. That can be misconstrued. The problem was the lack of power play opportunities, which meant a couple of things. First, you don’t have the puck enough five-on-five to generate power plays. That tells me you are not forechecking  well enough or playing with the puck long enough to establish a power play. If you are getting one power play a game for five games in a row you could be Detroit and not have a good power play. You can’t work on it. You can work on it in practice, but you’re not shooting the puck like you would in a game, you’re not having the intensity. I think the biggest thing to have a better power play is to have more of them. You’ll find the more of them you get, the more camaraderie you get, the more used to each other you get and your power play benefits from that. I think with (Jaromir) Jagr and Derek Roy coming in, the guys we’ve got on the point, I think it is certainly talented enough to be better than 30th. Trust me, 30th isn’t where we want to be, but I think we have to look past the power plays to five-on-five to be better on the power play. “

On playing with Jagr and Roy, the team’s other two key additions

“To be honest, I look forward to playing with every new group. Every team, every player has something special that has brought them to this league. Obviously, everybody knows what Jagr can do from his early days. I don’t know if he is the player he was in Pittsburgh, getting 100 some points, but he is still a premier player in this world. The opportunity to play with one of those guys is always fun. Derek, I played against a lot in Buffalo when I was with Carolina. Very crafty, very bright guy on the ice, likes to pass the puck a lot. I am looking forward to playing with all these guys. I am looking forward to seeing Kari (Lehtonen) play as well as he did last year, and some of the new guys stepping up and playing a bigger role. It’s going to be exciting, it’s going to be a fun year.”

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