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White Eager to Play Friday

by Paul Branecky / Carolina Hurricanes
It’s been an interesting few days for new Hurricanes defenseman Ian White, but the shock of his trade from Calgary and the paperwork that came with it are beginning to subside.

Paul Branecky
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For a time, it was not certain as to whether White, who hails from Steinbach, Manitoba and has only played for Canadian-based organizations in Toronto and Calgary, would make it to Pittsburgh in time for Carolina’s next game on Friday night. However, he anticipates making it there by Thursday evening, at which time he’ll pair up with Joni Pitkanen.

In the meantime, he’s had time to get used to the Wednesday trade that sent him and Brett Sutter to the Hurricanes in exchange for Anton Babchuk and Tom Kostopoulos.

“You’re obviously a little bit surprised at first,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming at all. Once it sinks in, you get excited when you start thinking about where you’re going next.”

His trade was not seen as such a shock by some members of the media, who pointed to his one-year, arbitration-avoiding deal this past summer as one that signified he did not have a long-term future in Calgary. White said that detail, along with the recent five-year extension signed by Flames blue liner Mark Giordano, did not affect his outlook.

“At this point I really wasn’t thinking about it all,” he said. “In this new salary cap era the numbers really have to work out, and someone has to be the odd man out.”

After five years in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, this marks the second time White has been traded in the last year, having been sent to Calgary on Jan. 31, 2010 in a seven-player deal involving Dion Phaneuf. White has a wife and a 16-month-old son that will not be far behind him on his eventual path to Raleigh.

In Carolina, he’ll join a few familiar faces that he knows from Toronto. He played with fellow defenseman Jay Harrison for a few years with the Leafs and American Hockey League Marlies, and also spent some time with forward Jiri Tlusty.

More than anything, he’ll be reunited with Paul Maurice, who was the Maple Leafs’ coach when White, now 26, first made his breakthrough as an NHL regular in 2006.

“We worked really well together,” said White of Maurice. “He’s been one of my most favorite coaches. I have a lot of faith in him and hold him in high regard.”

“He skates, moves the puck and competes pretty good, even though he isn’t the biggest guy out there,” said Maurice of his former-turned-current player. “He’ll be able to work well with Joni.”

White has not enjoyed a stellar start to his season, as his -10 plus/minus rating ranked last on a Flames team that was 7-9-0 at the time of the trade.

“It’s been mixed,” he said. “We didn’t get off to a good start and then had some spurts where we were better. Your personal success rides with the team success when things aren’t going well.”

White said that he considers himself a good all-around defenseman, although acknowledging that he may lean slightly more towards the offensive side. His 6 points through 16 games rank third among Hurricanes defensemen, and his career high of 38 set last season would have been second behind Pitkanen.

With White entering Friday’s lineup, defenseman Brett Carson was reassigned to AHL Charlotte on Thursday morning. That leaves the defensive group set for the weekend’s back-to-back games that conclude Saturday at home against Nashville, but forwards and goaltenders have yet to be determined.

Given Thursday’s trade, Maurice said that Tuesday waiver acquisition Troy Bodie was not a certainty to play against Pittsburgh as was originally planned. He also said that the team would continue to discuss which games Cam Ward and Justin Peters would play in goal.

Also on Thursday, the Hurricanes placed Brett Sutter, who was originally on a conditioning stint to Charlotte, on waivers. The move is a necessity to assign him to the AHL team for more than that two week period, during which time he will earn the lower level of his two-way salary. Other NHL teams will now have the opportunity to claim him, which Carolina hopes to avoid.

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