Five Minutes with Ryan White: Habs Centre Having His Best Season Yet

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When Ryan White returned to the Habs after a longer than anticipated time on the shelf due to an upper-body injury, the fourth line forward immediately made an impact.  He has three points in three games, and has helped the Habs to a 3-0 record over that period.

A little bit of quick background information on the Montreal Canadiens forward. He was born on March 17th 1988 in Brandon Manitoba. He grew up playing hockey and started his WHL career with the Calgary Hitmen in 2004. During his first year he played 63 games, recorded nine goals and fourteen assists. However throughout his time with the Hitmen those numbers kept increasing and by the time he was done, he was one of the top scorers on the team. His skill and hard nosed play got him noticed by NHL scouts and he was drafted 66th overall by the Canadiens in the 2006 NHL Draft.

White would play two more years with the Hitmen after being drafted, before moving on to the professional ranks in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs. While he didn’t score as much as he did in his WHL days, he settled in nicely with the Bulldogs and even scored 17 goals in 62 games for the Bulldogs in the 2009-10 season and earned his first NHL duty, playing 16 games as an injury fill-in for the Habs.  It wasn’t the points that got him to the big league though, it was his hard-nosed, gritty play, along with strong work on the defensive side of the ice in the AHL.

After continuing to go back and forth between Hamilton and Montreal (and spending some time on IR over the next two years) his first full season with the Canadiens was the lockout shortened 2012-2013 campaign.  It was a rough year filled with more injuries, costly game-costing penalties and even a suspension.  Some fans were suprised when General Manager Marc Bergevein decided to give him another chance with the Habs in 2013-14.

He had a good start to the training camp despite suffering yet another injury.  Luckily this was a minor one (stick to the face that required stitches). He even scored a goal in the preseason against the New Jersey Devils. However when the regular season came, he found himself on the outside looking in for the Habs.  It seemed that when all the forwards were healthy, White was the 13th forward and found himself in the press box.  However, no NHL team is able to keep all of their forwards healthy forever, When injuries hit, White was given an opportunity to earn regular ice-time and he has not disappointed when given the chance.  It seemed he was really playing well around the holidays, when the nasty injury bug struck again.  White injured himself in a game against the Dallas Stars when he missed trying to throw a check.

White was supposed to be out on a day-to-day basis, but that quickly turned into two weeks and then turned into a month. All in all White missed 14 games with the injury.  While some have speculated that White suffered a shoulder injury, he would not give LWOS any details except to say that he is feeling better and ready go.

In his first game back against the Calgary Flames, White had his best game of the season (to that point).  While he didn’t get any points, he created a lot of offensive chances and even had a career-high six shots on goal.  His aggressive forecheck pinned the Flames in their own end all night long.  White earned the night’s third star for his efforts.

 

The following game against the Vancouver Canucks, White scored his first goal of the season. The following day I was able to sit down and have a short talk with White and do a mini-interview.

When asked about the injury, White stated that he was just happy to be back on the ice, playing with the team and helping them pick up important points in the standings.  It was a harder and longer recovery than the doctors and trainers originally thought.  It was frustrating as his injury simply was not healing as fast as he or the team hoped it would.

White further spoke about his teammates going to Sochi and while he wishes them all luck, he hopes that Canada (being Canadian) wins the gold medal. Being the team player he is, he will be happy just to see his teammates come back and hear about their Olympic experiences.

When questioned about his future, he says he hopes to be back next season and will do anything to make it happen. He loves the team and the fans.

It is notable that his play between last season and this season has dramatically changed. He went from being a player who almost always seemed to be undisciplined and causing problems for the team, to a player who keeps up his hardnosed and gritty style, but knows how to walk the line between being a pest to the other team, and a problem to his own.  He’s also become very effective as a fourth line center and penalty killer. I think when the season started White knew he was running out of chances in Montreal to prove his worth and stay in the lineup and earn another contract with the team.

When healthy, White has added exactly the elements that this Habs team needs from him.  If he keeps up playing this way, and that includes how hes been all season; not just those great last three games. If he can continue to play this way, I can see him re-signing with the team this summer as he has been a valuable role player. He knows exactly what is expected of him out on the ice, and what he needs to do to be a valuable contributor to the Habs.

In our chat, White did admit that some days it is harder to keep under control then others especially when certain players on other teams chose to push his buttons but he is working on keeping his discipline, and helping to bring the type of energy his team needs out of him every night.

I’d like to thank Ryan White for taking a few minutes to chat with me about the year, and hope we continue to see him in a Canadiens jersey for a long time to come.

 

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