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Tough Break Opens Olympic Opportunity for Former Terrier

Ryan Whitney and Chris Drury hope to recapture the magic

| From BU Today | By Rich Barlow

Ryan Whitney in his Terrier days (left); Chris Drury and BU hockey coach Jack Parker with Drury’s Hobey Baker award in 1998.

It is not the route Ryan Whitney would have chosen to the Olympics. But injuries sidelining a player on the U.S. men’s ice hockey team helped the former BU star claim a berth at the 21st Winter Games in Vancouver.

This is the first Olympics for Whitney (CAS’05). The defenseman for the National Hockey League’s Anaheim Ducks joins former Terrier Chris Drury (CAS’98) on the U.S. team. New York Rangers center Drury is an Olympic veteran, making his third appearance after skating for the men’s team in 2002 and 2006. Whitney is the ninth Duck contributing to various Olympic teams, the biggest contingent from a single NHL organization.

The U.S. team plays its first game, against Switzerland, on Tuesday, February 16, three days before Whitney turns 27.

Passed over when the team was named last month, Whitney and Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes won spots after two players withdrew because of arm injuries.

“It’s an honor to represent your country in international play,” Whitney says. “I’ve played for the U.S. in the World Juniors, but I can’t imagine the Olympics. You’re on the biggest stage and it only happens once every four years, so it’s a dream come true.”

He regrets how and why the dream came true: a busted forearm for New Jersey Devil Paul Martin, whose place he is taking. “He’s a great guy, a great player. I really felt for him,” says Whitney. “He pulled a very classy move when he texted me to wish me good luck.”

Brian Burke, general manager of Team USA, explained the choice on ESPN.com: “Ryan Whitney is a good-sized player with mobility and puck-moving skills.” Whitney says those skills were honed during his three years as a Terrier: “I grew as a player at BU.”

BU hockey coach Jack Parker (SMG’68, Hon.’97) has seen his former players picked for Olympic competition 32 times now.

“Chris is without question one of the greatest players ever to play here,” he says, citing Drury’s 1998 Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given each year to the top collegiate men’s hockey player. Both BU and the Hockey East league named Drury most valuable player two years in a row.

Whitney was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ number one draft pick when he left BU after his junior year. “Frankly, we were fortunate to keep him for three years,” says Parker. “I thought he was going to leave after his sophomore year.”

A Scituate native, 6’ 3” and 210 pounds, Whitney shoots left; he played in 107 games during his years at BU, scoring 16 goals and making 43 assists.

Drury, 33, who played for three NHL teams before becoming the Rangers’ center, won the Olympic silver medal with the U.S. team in 2002. He tallied 113 goals and 100 assists in 155 games during his BU career.

The two Olympians’ former coach offers little cheer for American hockey fans when asked to predict who’ll be standing on the medalists’ box.

“I think it will be hard for anybody to beat the Canadians,” says Parker. He picks Sweden for the silver, with the United States having a shot — perhaps more of a slapshot than something from close in — at the bronze.

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