BY: Shawn Lavoie (@SLavoie54)
Ryan White, the player who managed to start last season as a fan favorite but then became an unwanted player by the fans. For those who may not fully understand why, we’ll take a look at his stat sheet. Over the past two seasons, the 6’0’’, 194 lbs. forward totalled 128 penalty minutes in 46 games. This is nearly three minutes a game. It is understandable for a player like White to rack up penalty minutes, but as long as it does not cost the team, which White did last season.
Having established himself as a fan favorite with his gritty style of play, and willingness to fight anyone of any size, the Brandon, Manitoba native was starting to establish himself as a good fourth line agitator over the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. He was extremely physical and often sparked up the team with his non-quit playing style. Furthermore, when White returned from his injury in February last year, he was like a breath of fresh air and showed how much the Montreal Canadiens missed having a player like him in their lineup.
Last season though, he messed up. He cost his team more than he gave. It was like he lost any kind of self-control. He would drop the gloves at the worst time, slash opponents with frustration, and rough up opponents because they hit him cleanly. This lack of discipline caused him to be scratched a number of times and fans started to ask for him to be demoted or released. In order to earn a full-time spot in the NHL, Ryan White will have to rein in his aggressiveness and find the good times to provoke the opponent. The feisty forward will need to be able to walk the fine line between what’s legal and what’s not.
A good example to follow for White is his teammate Brandon Prust. The former New York Ranger plays the same kind of game as White does. Even though Prust may have more hockey acumen than White as he can play on a third line, the London, Ontario native plays an agitator’s game. He loves to get under his opponent’s skin and will fight anyone. However, Prust is able to pick his spots. The 6’2’’, 195lbs. winger knows when it’s time to drop the gloves and create a spark, even though he knows he may very well get a penalty. His ability to agitate as well as helping out offensively and defensively made him become a key piece of the lineup in the lock-out shortened season.
Ryan White will need to improve his discipline as well as his overall game if he wants to become a regular in the NHL. With only 11 points in 89 games in four seasons in the NHL, White will need to chip in a little more often offensively and as a fourth line player, being able to play on the PK will also help. Players like him are easily replaceable, so it is essential for White to improve his discipline and on-ice performance, because he may have to settle for a two-way contract next year and return in the AHL.