Ray Whitney, Hockey’s Paladin: Threero Of The Week (March 18-24)

by J.R.

Western literature has a great history of the moralistic mercenary.

American culture is littered with guns-for-hire with hearts of gold.

Men with pasts. Men whose wisdom has been earned by a life serving righteousness’s interests on the margins of society.

Their arc is familiar and still jarring — they emerge as flashy, brazen sharpshooters, but life burns them — usually via a nine-game stint with Edmonton — and life smooths and life burnishes them and at the end, they emerge wizened and wise, dispensing justice and dispensing maxims, no longer with the audacious rapidity of youth, but with cold and careful calculation.

HGWT19

Have Gun, Will Travel reads the card of the man.
A knight without armor in a savage land.

The Dallas Stars are Ray Whitney’s eighth team in a career that dates back to before three work stoppages ago. He’s a tough winger who can still go for 50, 60, 70 points a season — truly a much-desired commodity.

He was born in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, a place that sounds so absurdly Western Canadian it’s hard to believe it exists.

And because Ray Whitney is kind enough to fit his personal narrative to the American mythos, he has played much of his career in the West — San Jose, Edmonton, Phoenix, Dallas. When he hasn’t, he’s been on hockey’s frontier: Carolina — the site of America’s first gold rush; Florida — the home of America’s first cowboys, still extant; Columbus. Only Detroit — western by virtue of the convoluted logic of the soon-to-be obsolete geography of the NHL — was an outlier by virtue of its conventionalism.

His fast gun for hire heeds the calling wind.
A soldier of fortune is the man called Paladin.

In 15 games with the Stars these season, Whitney has five goals and seven assists, riding a shooting percentage of 18.5 percent — which the Corsiatti will says is unsustainable, but Whitney’s a savvy gunman. This week Whitney had two goals and two assists in four games for the Stars — and really it was just three games, staying quiet as he did in Dallas’ 5-2 win in the Conference III clash with Colorado Saturday.

A chess knight of silver is his badge of trust.
There are campfire legends that plains men spin.
Of the man with the gun, of the man called Paladin.

While statistically Whitney’s been no slouch, it was really his interview with Mayor’s Manor that gets him Threero status for the week.

Does Whitney care about stats? Nope. Just winning:

The problem that I see with players nowadays is they think their individual stats are what’s going to get them their next best contract. I find that if you continue to play on a winning hockey team, and do your part, your contract will come regardless.

What’s he got to say to his young charges?

It’s the one thing I can relate to the young guys. I say, ‘Listen, when you’re at the rink it’s work time. You can put your stuff away, and you can worry about your girlfriend’s text messaging and stuff later. It’s time to get down to business.

Does he still go out to the dusty saloons?

Make sure you invite young guys if you’re gonna go out. If your wife allows you. If they’re going to go out for a couple beers after the game. Go out there once in a while with them. (If your wife allows you?) Yeah, if your wife allows you. Mine’s pretty good about allowing me to – not on a gamely basis, but to go out every now and then and have a couple beers with them.

Older, wiser, tougher. Heart of gold. Conference III.

Paladin, Paladin
Where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin,
Far, far from home.

Whitney signed for two years with the Stars, so he’s not ready to hang up his spurs and ride back to Fort Saskatchewan just yet. As long as he’s scoring and dispensing that hard-earned knowledge, he’ll have a place to play.
Sew a chess knight on his sweater.

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