Wednesday, April 1, 2009

White For Masterton!

"I can't wait to play, forward, defence, whatever. If Vesa (Toskala) or Cujo (Curtis Joseph) get hurt, I'll play between the pipes too. I just want to play."
- Ian White, Oct. 17/08
A sincere congratulations to Ian White for his selection as the Maple Leafs' nominee for the Masterton Trophy. I seriously doubt he will win it, but I've actually been suggesting he was a worthy candidate since early December, though I was only half-serious as usual. I thought the Leafs' nomination might go to Jason Blake again, who would've been a deserving candidate still, but since he won the award last year, it's nice that they chose to recognize White's "perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication".
This is the way things used to go for Ian White. As you can see, his style of defending usually involved lying on his stomach and yelling, "NOOOOOO!". Predictably, the puck would then hit his skate and deflect perfectly through Raycroft's gaping five-hole. Check the picture above closely and notice how Raycroft doesn't even seem to be looking at the puck - he's looking at an empty space between his stick and his glove. You can't really fault Ian for this play - if you had Raycrap in goal behind you, you'd be lying on your stomach screaming, "NOOOOOO!" as well.

I like White's Attitude. He's always struck me as an honest and thoughtful person who sincerely cared about his performance and contribution. Now in his 3rd full season in the NHL, White has grow with the Leafs from a youthful, optimistic rookie to a confused and conflicted sophomore to a confident, reliable role model. Brian Burke gives his own description: "He's smart and intense. A versatile leader." And he's not even 25 years old.
Gosh, he's a little guy, though. Regardless, White plays big, and carries the weight of Wendel's mustache with honour. One thing I've enjoyed about Ian White's game this year is his spirited enthusiasm for dropping the gloves with some of the league's other lightweights. Kovalchuk, Naslund, and Clutterbuck (what a name), all got a taste of the White Tornado this year and were lucky they didn't get demolished. (During the Kovalchuk fight, we hear this revelation at the :30 mark; "Leaf strength coach Matt Nicholas said that Ian White pound for pound is the strongest guy on this hockey team.”). We need to bring back Belak, fast.
I don't have anything funny or interesting to add to this photo, I just think it's an awesome picture. Wouldn't be surprised to see it appear on Vintage Leafs someday.

White's stats for the year are: 65GP, 9G (career high), 15A, 24P, +2, 57PIMs, 2 powerplay goals and 1 game winning goal. He is 2 points away from a career high there as well, and has achieved all of this after being a healthy scratch through the first 11 games of the season. Unable to crack the line-up in October as either a forward or a defenceman, Ian White scored in his first game of the season, November 2nd (6-4 loss to Carolina), the first goal of the game, in the first period at 6:28.
So, once again, congratulations to Ian White. Perseverance, dedication, and even sportsmanship (if you don't count beating up lightweights) really is rewarding and sets an excellent example for the next generation of Leaf youngsters. Like Todd Gill did once before, White proved that hard work and an optimistic approach, more then size or talent, is the key to having to a job in the NHL. And of course, never forget that rockin' a wicked porn star 'stache will increase your stud-power by 100.


Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I think that first quote really says it all about White. He just wants to contribute.

After his DUI, I think we all knew it would be interesting to see how he would bounce back, being a young guy. He's done an incredible job.

Is there a Maple Leaf who saw his stock rise more than White this year?

Good for him.

general borschevsky said...

You had to mention the DUI, eh. I hope White learned from that mistake and he seems to be setting the right example now. I described him as "a confused and conflicted sophomore" without thinking of that or making a connection to Mark Bell, but...

Is there a Maple Leaf who saw his stock rise more than White this year?

Maybe only Dominic Moore, who, at the beginning of the year, didn't have a trade value anywhere near Antropov's. But ya, White appeared to be finished in Toronto in October. Amazing where he is now.

Cheers, eyebleaf!

bkblades said...

Times change and only now am I starting to accept White in the Blue & White. And as much his boneheaded play warranted much consternation from me, it was his incredibly arrogant comment about his DUI that turned me off from the start (White basically said his drunk driving wouldn't be a big deal if he wasn't a hockey player - while somewhat true, still insensitive and tactless). But he was young, immaturity got the best of him, and I can't deny how much he has improved over the course of this year. While White will never be a favourite of mine, he deserves whatever accolades that come his way because White does deserve them.

general borschevsky said...

bkblades! Alaways a pleasure when you drop by. White is still a young guy, younger then I thought acutally, 24 turning 25 in the summer, but he's playing with the maturity of a veteran leader. Another goal last night, his 10th of the year, turned out to be his second game winner of the season, and puts him 1 point away from equalling a career high.