GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Ray Whitney was on and off the ice today at Jobing.com Arena well before the Hurricanes pulled in for their afternoon practice, but waited around to say hello to a few old friends.
Whitney has a new team, the Phoenix Coyotes. His family has a new home. At 38, he's making a new start.
But one thing hasn't changed. Whitney, back in the Coyotes lineup after missing two games with a finger injury, will be playing hard and doing all he can to win Saturday night, even if it means beating a team he helped win a Stanley Cup.
"It will be a little strange being on the other side from guys like Eric Staal and Erik Cole," Whitney said today after a practice at the arena. "It will be weird. I'll be glad when it's done."
Whitney joked that he wasn't sure which of the Canes would be the first to lay a lick on him Saturday.
"I've verbally given it to a lot of guys over the years," he said, smiling. "There might be a lineup for that one.
"(Tim) Gleason probably will give me a good one. Joni (Pitkanen) might give me one. Joni and I have had a couple of run-ins."
And Whitney got in the first verbal hit -- at Chad LaRose.
"Listening to Chad LaRose on the other side ... I don't know if it's going be as funny this time when I'm not on the same side," Whitney quipped.
Injuries have kept Whitney's line -- with former Canes forward Radim Vrbata and Martin Hanzal -- from building any chemistry. He was out with the injury suffered while the Coyotes were in Prague, Czech Republic, to open the season. Hanzal has been injured.
"I'm still trying to find my way out out there a little bit," Whitney said. "Coming from a different system for five years, I find myself at times being in the wrong spot or thinking the game a little too much. When you think the game, you play the game slower.
"I'm still working on it."
Whitney has one assist in three games. The Coyotes are expecting him to help a power play that was 29th in the league last year.
And, of course, there's his personality, which shows up in any room.
"He's a great fit for this team," Vrbata said.
Photo: Mike Ridewood - Getty Images