Joe Whitney may be small, but the diminutive forward has big offensive skills. (Fred Kfoury/Icon SMI)
By Allan Muir
Good thing that the Hurricanes’ Nathan Gerbe popped in that sweet Marek Malik-goal last night in Philly. At least he’ll have that highlight reel moment to hang his hat on if he loses his title as the NHL’s shortest player to Devils forward Joe Whitney.
Whitney, a two-time NCAA champion at Boston College where he was Gerbe’s teammate, was recalled today from Albany of the AHL. He skated in practice on New Jersey’s first line alongside Jaromir Jagr and Travis Zajac, and could make his NHL debut Friday night when the Devils host the Capitals.
That opportunity alone would be eye-catching, but Whitney’s size makes it even more so. The 25-year-old left winger is listed at 5-foot-6, 170 pounds, which is actually an inch taller than Gerbe’s weigh-in numbers: 5-5, 179. But New Jersey beat writer Tom Gulitti called Whitney’s official measurements “generous,” while one scout laughed and said “no f—— chance. More like 5-4.”
If that’s true, the lil’ Devil is bordering on Roy Worters territory. (Worters, a Hall of Fame goalie who played in the 1920s and ’30s, was nicknamed “Shrimp” for a pretty good reason. At 5-3, 135 pounds, he remains the smallest player ever to appear in the NHL.)
Whitney won’t mind the digs — better, after all, to be the shortest player in the NHL than the tallest in the AHL. But now that he has one skate in the door, the trick for him will be to get beyond the novelty and prove he belongs.