written by Iain Carnegie, AllHabs.net

Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

MONTREAL, QC. — I think back to last September at the Canadiens training camp and the memories are vivid.  The first thing that comes to mind is the feeling that I would get in the pit of my stomach as the Habs closed in on another season. I still wasn’t fully off the high from the previous post season — knocking off the President Trophy Washington Capitals, and the highly regarded Pittsburgh Penguins was something to relish for months.

But there was a lot of pre-season banter going into the 2010-2011 season; especially in the Twitterverse. Opinion was flying in regards to the opening day line-up that Jacques Martin might put together. Questions ran deep as to who was suited to remain with the team from the previous seasons roster.

Names that drew the largest amount of commentary were the likes of Benoit Pouliot, Andrei Kostitsyn, and Lars Eller. Did they belong on the big club instead of being handed a ticket to Hamilton or another franchise, and where was their place on the team?

The one name that was never off my radar was Ryan White.

I watched him shine in the pre-season games. I realized he was playing strong, in a great effort to make the team and enjoy a full NHL season. It’s been years since I’ve seen someone play with that much determination, and it impressed me to no end.

One of my Twitter followers challenged me (and a hand full of others) to weigh in on who we wanted to see in the forward category for last season. White was without doubt in my roster, and here’s the comments that I made about him at that time:

“White has been the brightest light of the youngsters during training camp and preseason play. He works hard every shift, and would be a great compliment to Moen.” ~ Iain Carnegie “A Different Kind of Controversy”

Not exactly words that shake the earth, but I submit to you that I may have had some thought behind them. Thought that perhaps Ryan White has proven strongly over the past 27 games he played as a Canadien in the regular season, and seven more in the playoffs against Boston.

I contend to this day that Ryan White is exactly what the Montreal Canadiens need in the place in which he sits. At 23 years of age, this strong 6’0″ – 200 lb. center from Brandon Manitoba is a bit of a beast. I won’t dive into every stat that he put up as a Canadien last season, when he finally got the call up from Hamilton. Instead, I want to bring attention to what he brings to the table in a non-statistical point of view.

Ryan White is the type of player that the Habs organization has been looking to acquire for years. Consistently there has been a shortage of skilled fourth line players with size and grit. The closest we’ve seen to filling that role are Maxime Lapierre and Travis Moen. One of that duo is no longer in Montreal – and with solid reasons.

There is no doubt that the system implied for use within the organization requires faster, competent puck handling players in the top six position — players that can force turnovers and make teams pay. But what drives depth within that same system requires third and fourth line players that can grind, throw body weight, and contribute in the point column as well.

White does more than that with his size alone. He has great hockey intelligence. He knows what’s happening on the ice at all times, and has a knack for being able to make plays happen. From an offensive point of view, he grinds away in the tough areas of the ice, and in doing so, becomes a play maker. His determination to prove himself to his team-mates as well as the fans ensures that he gives 100 per cent when his skates hit the ice.

His role is purely as a fourth line player — the perfect centerman for that position. Teaming him up with Travis Moen and Mathieu Darche can only energize the team and create points as well. I can’t remember the last time that I witnessed two players with the intestinal fortitude to challenge the blue paint, or rough it up behind the net as I see in Darche and White. When I add Moen into the picture, it makes me believe that once and for all, we might witness a fourth line that will both produce points and spark the rest of the team.

With a one-way contract at $625,000, Ryan White is a steal. It’s refreshing to watch a young man that has so much desire to prove himself. It’s something that the Canadiens should get used to as players like Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais are also on that short list.

I will forever remember March 20th, 2011. It was the final nail in the coffin that sealed the deal for me with White in regards to who and what he is as a total NHL package. Many will refer to it as his Gordie Howe Hat Trick. I prefer to refer to it as a well rounded fourth liner, doing his job.

In an 8-1 routing of the Minnesota Wild, White not only scored a goal, potted an assist, and took care of Clayton Stoner. He sent a message to both teams on the ice, and every other team in the NHL. He’s here to play the game fully and completely. He’s here to help put pucks in the net, get the puck to his team-mates so that they can do the same, and even more-so – stand up for his fellow players when the need arises.

His message in a bottle: “I have talent, I have determination, and I have heart.”

So who can possibly gripe about the signing of Ryan White for the upcoming season? No doubt – many! But for the rest of us who look at the game from a more level point of view …

Sit back and watch the magic happen.



  1. I was thrilled to see that PG signed Ryan White today. As you point out, he brings a spark to the 4th line that the Habs desperately needed. He also adds speed, determination, and a willingness to stand up for his teammates that contributes to increasing this team’s toughness. So far, he seems to be a young player, who understands his role, and will do whatever it takes to deliver what the organization requires. He is the ultimate team player, putting the team’s needs ahead of his own stats.
    While you note the March 20 performance against the Wild, the moment that I remember is his March 8th fight early in the game against Boston. Johnny Boychuk tried to get the knee out to clip PK Subban that was going up on a rush, Subban avoided him, but White immediately went after Boychuk, making the statement that the Bruins were not going to get away with gooning up like the previous game in Boston. Boychuk, whose last opponent was a hapless Spacek, seemed to have his hands full with the beast from Brandon, MB. Unfortunately, that game will be remembered for the disastrous hit on Max Pacioretty, but White’s role, early on in that game, enabled us to see a hockey game, instead of the circus of the previous game, the so-called Beatdown in Beantown of February 9…

    great write-up as always!

    • I knew before I got to the sentence that you were going to say Boychuk! Don’t blame you one bit on that either. I think the Stoner one rang true to me mostly by how he just seemed to mentally say “I’ve had enough of this dude running my mates – payback time”.

      I’ve been reading a lot of thoughts about White on various message boards (etc) and it amazes me how many people think that he’s expendable or not up to the task. To me (as it seems to be with you), he is exactly what a fourth line center is supposed to be, with skill.

      Looking forward to October so he can make his statement on the ice.

      Thanks for the thoughts Chris!

  2. Good write up Ian.
    I am glad he signed 1 way contract and thought he should of stuck with team last fall.
    When drafted i followed his play with Hit Men and he always seemed to have what Habs have lacked lately.
    A line with he, Moan and Darche may do well?

    But for as much as i love Darche’s effort, i would rather see another young player like Engqvist or Palushaj get a crack at 4th line.

    • I can see your point about the younger players making their way up through the system, but I make the exception for Darche. He’s been one of my favourites to watch.

      Despite his age, he’s a grinder and plays with a ton of heart. If you get the opportunity, look at the video of all the goals he scored this year. All of them came from heading to the tough areas of the ice and sacrificing his body. Love that guy.

      I can’t wait to see White play a season with him.

      Thanks for reading and leaving your thoughts Don – Really appreciate the support.

    • Ah – Good ol’ Darcy Tucker! I remember his glory days in Toronto. I like White better. I think he has more skill, potential, and heart in him … and a little less trailer park!

      Glad you agree with the signing!

  3. Great article Iain. I don’t quite see everything you see in him.. i still think of him as one of those “interchangeable” players.. the typical 4th liner. That being said, the qualities you attribute him are right on the mark. Let’s see how he does in a full calendar year.

    • I wondered when you might show up! Thanks for the read and comments Chantal.

      I can understand your point, but I don’t want to see him interchanged. I want to see him play some full time hockey and continue to develop. As good as he’s been in the AHL with the Bulldogs, I think we can really use his physical presence here on the big team.

      Knowing our beloved coach though – I won’t hold my breath regarding his ice time!

  4. Montreal fans being excited over a Fourth line player makes me think how Mediocrity has reared it’s ugly head on this Once Proud Franchise..Like the dinosaur, now extinct, the once mighty Habs are now the Habasaurus Defectus..

    • Glad you stopped by Showey. Haven’t had the chance to read a negative comment since you posted one on BBBR. But then again, I can always count on you.

      I don’t know if you listen to people in the MSM (as well as people in the blogging world with strong ties to hockey), but a common thread remains that teams with depth are the teams that can drive deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It was said over and over again that Boston was capable of firing on all four lines, which was a real difference maker to their Cup win.

      So now that Montreal has secured a solid 4th line center, with skill and grit – and a touch of fight in his bones – it becomes understandable why the fans would be excited. Mediocrity would be turning our back on depth and only looking to secure a single forward for the top line.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Shiram is right on the money as usual, Montreal has a terrible Top 6 fowards, very weak, have not addressed the weakness at center for years, ie Not drafting Ryan Getzlaf when we had the chance, all we care about is being a boring team hoping our goalie will bail us out..No playoffs this year. Leafs may even pass us by.

  6. Montreal will be a joke for many years to come, nobody of any worth wants to play here anymore, Taxes too high, media is intrusive and a joke and culturally, who wants to go to a place where you have to speak French and eat their nasty food.

    • Shiram,

      taxes are high here, but most services are free, balances out. Players deal with media in every city, on different levels.
      Andrei Markov has been here for 10 years and doesn’t speak french. He gets by just fine, as do others.
      When looking at a team, players will focus on the following : Organization, how their family will be treated, school systems, training facilities, teammates, game system, coaching staff. Management will overpay them here to counter your tax argument.


  8. Chantal is totally wrong as they had a survey on TSN a few years ago, surprized you don’t remember and 82% of NHL players said they would not play in Montreal because of either the taxes, French language or media.

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