|Todd White is very happy with his new hockey home and said he has always looked forward to games at Madison Square Garden throughout his NHL career. |
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• Rangers Get White in Deal with Thrashers
By Dan David, newyorkrangers.com
Veteran NHL center Todd White has been a member of five teams over the past 13 seasons, but no matter where White has played, he has always been very aware of when he would be in New York.
"When you get your schedule in the summertime, you're always looking forward to the trips to New York to play at MSG," White said on Monday, just a few hours after being traded to the Rangers from Atlanta. "So now I'm really looking forward to playing in front of the great fans of New York and being part of the great atmosphere in there."
White, 35, became a Blueshirt on Monday morning, when the Thrashers dealt him to New York in exchange for Donald Brashear and Patrick Rissmiller. He said he was "a little bit" surprised to learn he had been traded, but is delighted with his new hockey home.
"Obviously, you never know if something will happen in the summertime," he said. "But I'm really looking forward to coming to New York and playing for the Rangers to help them get back in the playoffs. They have a great group of guys on the team, and I'm really looking forward to being a part of it.
In White, the Rangers have added a very versatile veteran center who can contribute to the team in many ways. In addition to his extensive experience on both the power play and penalty kill, he has the potential for big offensive numbers like the 73-point season he enjoyed just two years ago with the Thrashers.
A former college star at Clarkson University, White entered the NHL with Chicago as an undrafted free agent. Making additional stops at Philadelphia, Ottawa, Minnesota and Atlanta, he has posted three 20-goal seasons in a career where he has averaged 17 to 18 minutes of icetime per game.
In his big 2008-09 season, White scored 12 of his 22 goals on the power play and he put up even more assists than superstar teammate Ilya Kovalchuk in leading the Thrashers with a career-high 51.
"I try to be a good two-way centerman," said White. "In some situations, I've been in more of an offensive role, and in some situations I've been in more of a defensive role. So I think I can adapt to what's being asked of me. I think I can contribute on both specialty teams and contribute offensively, 5-on-5."
In the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons, White was a Minnesota Wild teammate of Rangers scoring leader Marian Gaborik
. Over those two years, White contributed 32 goals and 84 points despite rarely playing alongside Gaborik on the top line.
"Jacques Lemaire changed the lines around quite a bit when we played there together," White said of his time with Gaborik. "There were times, especially on the power play and things like that, where we were out there together. I have centered him both 5-on-5 and power play.
Three years removed from his last game with White as a teammate, Gaborik still remembers the new Ranger's style well.
"We didn't really get a chance to play much together, but when we did I felt that he was a very good centerman," said Gaborik. "He can play both very well defensively and offensively. He's put up a lot of points every year while playing mostly on a second line. I think he's going to be a good fit for us because he's a good skater and he's strong."
Off the ice, Gaborik recalls White as a soft-spoken player who leads by example and feels that he will be an important influence in the Rangers locker room.
"He's a quiet guy, but he's been around and he's going to bring a lot of experience," said Gaborik. "He has played well for every team that he played for."
White marveled at what Gaborik did for the Rangers in his first year with the team last year, scoring 42 goals and 86 points in 76 games.
"He's an unbelievable talent," White said of his once and future NHL teammate. "He had a tremendous year last year, and I am really looking forward to skating with him again and playing with him again. He's a fun player to be playing with and to watch."
Within hours of being traded, White enthusiastically said he was already making plans for his arrival in New York.
"I'm looking forward to getting to New York as soon as possible," he said Monday. "I'm sure when the informal skates start up, it will be nice to get to meet guys before the actual training camp begins."