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Defenseman plans to skate next month

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Monday, Oct. 13, 2008
 

Defenseman Ryan Whitney hopes to play in December. But an even quicker recovery from left foot surgery in mid-August is doubtful.

"Right now, it doesn't feel great," Whitney said. "But I've only been out of the (stabilizing walking boot) for about 10, 11 days. It's still pretty painful.

"But the plan is to start skating in a month."

If that plan plays out, Whitney could return to the Penguins considerably faster than the worst-case scenario he presented to the Tribune-Review the day before his Aug. 16 procedure. Whitney feared he might not return until January.

General manager Ray Shero said Sept. 30 he believed Whitney would return "within the next two to three months."

Whitney, who recorded 40 points last season, the entirety of which he played with a left-foot deformity, said his injury "became a lot more frustrating" when defenseman Sergei Gonchar was diagnosed with a separated left shoulder that required surgery Oct. 2.

Gonchar is not expected to return until March.

"It was a little upsetting because now the team has to rely on some young guys to do what 'Gonch' and I did," Whitney said. "But they'll be fine. There was a time when I didn't have much experience, and I had to learn on the go.

"I think you'll see that (rookie Alex) Goligoski and (Kris) Letang will do really well."

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