MONTREAL – Ryan White may not have had the season he hoped for, but the experience he gained will likely prove beneficial in the future.
Back in January, the 2012-13 season was about to get underway and White could finally confirm that he was healthy, ready for the shortened campaign and looking to showcase his potential as a power forward to his new bosses. Fully recovered from a sports hernia he suffered at training camp that sidelined him for 58 games last season, the Brandon, MB native didn’t need any help finding the spark to reignite both his spirit and his energy. Players on opposing teams who were on the receiving end of one of White’s hits this year can certainly attest to that. Despite his good intentions, however, the centerman failed to start the season off on a high note.
"I put myself in a precarious position right from the start of the season. I don’t want to say that it was a difficult year because the team performed well, but from a personal standpoint, I would have wanted to be more of a help to my teammates," affirmed White, who still managed to finish the season ranked third on the team with a 54.5 percent success rate in the faceoff circle.
Throughout the season, White faced adversity time and time again. Shuttled between the press box and the players’ bench on several occasions over the course of the 48-game schedule, and forced to endure a five-game suspension at the end of the year, the hard-nosed forward continued to showcase the combativeness and passion that led to his reinsertion in the lineup despite a few setbacks.
On-ice struggles aside, the six-foot, 194-pound forward was fired up to take part in the playoffs for the second time in his career.
"I knew what to expect in the playoffs and I was familiar with the style of hockey that I had to play. I was prepared for that. I would have wanted us to be able to play a few more games to have the opportunity to show what I could contribute to the team. I played the right way during the playoffs. It’s just too bad the way things finished up," noted the feisty 25-year-old, who suffered a punctured lung during the series against the Senators.
"I think that I’m progressing every day and that I’m becoming a better player. My stats might show the opposite, but when I think back to this season, I believe that I became a better player and I never stopped working hard," continued White, who dropped the gloves four times during the regular season.
Needing to sign a new contract ahead of July 5, the date upon which he will become a restricted free agent, White is hopeful that he will have another go-around with the Canadiens next season. He will be looking to prove that the events of the last six months were just small missteps along a far more productive path in the future.
"It’s not the first time that I’ve had to renew my contract. We’re not thinking about it during the season. I believe that I worked hard this season, and I hope I showed the organization enough to have them offer me another contract," said White, who will begin his fifth NHL season in 2013-14.
"This season, I wanted to do more for the team. I’m hopeful that I’ll have another opportunity to prove that I still have a place here," he concluded.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll know if the physical forward’s efforts have convinced Marc Bergevin and his staff to make him an offer for next year. No matter the outcome, Ryan White’s courage and determination cannot be underestimated.
Philippe Frenette-Roy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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