Off the ice, Steven Whitney likes to keep things simple.
His teammates joke that he only needed to pack one bag to get all of his belongings to college. The walls of his dorm room are unadorned. Patrick Wey speculates that he sleeps on his BC-issued mattress and doesn’t even own a mattress softener.
“I think if you saw his room you’d think he was a minimalist or something,” Wey said. “It’s funny. It just fits him. He’s the kind of guy who’s so easy going and can deal with anything.”
It’s the same story on the ice.
In many respects, Whitney can thrive in any situation because he keeps things simple. He’s more than capable of the spectacular—take his seeing-eye pass to set up Bill Arnold’s Beanpot-winning goal last year as an example. But much of his game revolves around doing the little things right and putting in that extra bit of effort, and it’s very likely that will figure into BC’s success this season.
“Aside from the fact that he’s a special talent, you have to look a little closer at his game and see how much of it involves hard work and grit, and that’s when you really understand his value as a teammate,” Parker Milner said.
Whitney, for his part, will downplay the stories his teammates tell about his grittiness.
“It’s just effort,” he said. “I try to give my best effort every night and that’s probably where they see that coming from. I take pride in giving my best effort and think that’s a good example to set for the other players.”
All of the hard work Whitney put in paid off last year. The 5-foot-7 winger had a career-high 39 points. He tallied three goals and two assists in the Frozen Four and was named to the Frozen Four All-Tournament Team. He proved himself to be a relentless penalty killer and ended the season with three short-handed goals, two of which came against Northeastern in the Beanpot.
But his impact can’t be broken down only by the numbers. Danny Linell couldn’t count how many times he threw himself in front of a speeding puck on defense. Milner pointed out that it’s inspiring to watch him play because “you can see it in his eyes whenever he plays how much it all means to him.” Wey said that, even though he’s still quiet, he’s come into his own as a leader.
“When he does talk and does say things, it’s really meaningful,” Wey said. “But I think the most he says is through how hard he works.”
That’s the way Whitney wants it.
He hopes to be more consistent this year because, as he said, “it’s something that other guys look up to and will really help the team when they know what they’re going to get from you.” His leadership style is simple: he plans “to do the right things and set a good example for the younger guys.” When explicitly asked to give his individual goal for the season, he still put it in team-oriented terms.
“That’s my ultimate goal: to play within myself and play for the team and play the way that will help the team win the most games,” Whitney said.
And, if something will help the Eagles win, Whitney will do it, even if he ends up with a few battle scars.
“There’s been a million times I’ve seen him come back to the bench with bloody noses, bleeding ears,” Linell said. “He’s a warrior.”
As Wey said, Whitney can deal with just about anything.
“I’ve had a few cuts. Maybe it’s because I’m short and my eye level is at everyone else’s elbows,” Whitney said, with a laugh. “I don’t complain.”
(Additional reporting by Emily Arnold and Will Burchfield)