DETROIT – With how the season went for defenseman Ian White, it’s a safe bet that he won’t be returning to the Detroit Red Wings next season.
And Wings coach Mike Babcock made that quite clear Friday as the team gathered for the end-of-year picture and locker clean out at Joe Louis Arena.
“It didn’t go the way Whitey wanted it,” Babcock said. “Whitey’s a real good person, a real good man. We wish him luck.”
What a difference a year made for the blue liner as he went from a top-four defenseman, paired with Nicklas Lidstrom many nights, to a healthy scratch late in the season.
“I don’t know (what happened),” White said. “I thought I was playing pretty well. I played seven games in a row the last time I played and I was on the ice for one goal against in seven games. I scored a goal too and thought I was playing pretty well. Obviously not letting goals in is what I’m paid to do, so for whatever reason I wasn’t in the mix and sometimes that’s how it goes.”
In 77 regular season games last year, White had seven goals and 25 assists. He was also a plus-22.
He dipped to 25 games played in his lockout-shortened season, scoring two goals to go with two assists and was a plus-4.
“I spoke with them a few times,” White said. “The only thing I can think of is I’m a small defenseman and I’ve been hearing that my whole life, you’ve got to be big to play and all that. They decided to go with their big defensemen and that didn’t include me.”
White missed five games early in the season after suffering deep leg laceration, but once healthy he was back in the lineup.
Then on Feb. 27, White found himself a healthy scratch. That continued on for six consecutive games.
Babcock said at the time it was because he was having difficulty getting the puck out of his zone. And once Brendan Smith and Kyle Quincey returned from injury, White was benched.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” White said. “I know that I can help this team out and help it win. My game fits well with some of the guys here, the puck-possession game and we have some real skilled forwards who have to have the puck in their hands and I can deliver that.
“It’s real disappointing to have it end this way,” White continued. “When I came here, and after last year, I thought I might be able to have a long future here, but we’ll see how everything goes in the next month.”
His last regular season game with the Wings was April 7 and he did not play in the playoffs.
“I assumed I wasn’t going to play (in the playoffs),” White said. “I hadn’t played in a month before that. Why all of a sudden I get in the playoffs when we had real crucial games down the stretch too where I wasn’t out there. I didn’t think I’d be the first one in the playoffs that’s for sure.”
Bouncing from team-to-team is nothing new for White, who signed a two-year deal worth $5.75 million to replace Brian Rafalski on the blue line after the 2010-2011 season.
In his first six seasons in the league, White was traded three times. In one season he was dealt twice.
“I have no idea,” White said when asked about his future. “You start having decisions with your agent and talk to Ken (Holland). I love it here. I love playing here and it’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to play this year. It’s probably somewhat doubtful that you bring back some guy that you’re not going to play. The most unfortunate part of our business is moving around all of the time and switching teams, but that’s the nature of the game. We’ll see how it plays out.”
With the addition of Danny DeKeyser during the season and the emergence of Brian Lashoff, Detroit’s blue line is pretty crowded.
The defense also includes Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith and Carlo Colaiacovo, who has one-year left on a two-year deal.
Smith and Kindl are both restricted free agents.
White severed a tendon in his left knee after the heel of Jimmy Howard’s sliced through the top of his knee in the third game of the season. He was sidelined two weeks and missed five games.
“It could have been a lot worse,” White said at the time. “You have a tendon going right over your knee cap. It just missed it. I guess if I would have cut that I might have been the season. Lucky, if you will.”