GLENDALE, Ariz. — If you want to know why the Coyotes signed free-agent forward Ryan White to a one-year, $1 million deal this summer, the explanation was right there in the SAP Center stands on Saturday when the Coyotes took on the San Jose Sharks.
Moments after White scored the tying goal in Arizona’s 3-2 overtime win, the television cameras turned to the stands to catch the reaction of the dads who had joined the Coyotes on their first-ever dads trip. White’s dad was caught flipping the bird to some hecklers below him.
“I saw that; I laughed,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “The emotion went right to the stands.”
Emotion and in-your-face grit are big parts of the package White brings to the Coyotes.
“It just happens,” he said. “I’ve always played that way but as I’ve become a pro and a man I’ve realized that I have to play that way anyway. I think it just comes out of me. The more physical I’m playing, the more space I have out there and that’s where my skills can take over.”
Nobody is expecting White to pot 20 goals, but with strong play and greater opportunity, he has scored five goals and notched nine points this season, including four goals in his last nine games.
“I’ve always been kind of just a depth guy for teams and I started out that way here but it seems like the more the season is going on, the more opportunity I am getting here,” he said. “I’ve always tried to take care of my own zone first and that’s usually where you gain a little bit of your coach’s trust, but if you’re putting them in the back of the net it definitely gets you a little more leeway out there.”
White had seven years of NHL experience on his resume, so GM John Chayka and coach Dave Tippett knew what they were getting.
“We were looking for the impact he would have, not just on young guys but on our locker room,” Tippett said. “We needed some energy in that locker room. There’s been a couple real good guys since I’ve been around. [Ed] Jovanovski was very good in the locker room; [Keith] Yandle was very good in the locker room. We were looking to enhance the locker room atmosphere a little bit and Whitey’s got a lot of credibility in the game and he’s an emotional guy.
“He came exactly as advertised. He’s one of those guys that’s a great teammate, all-in every game, plays hard and will do whatever it takes to help a team win.”
White has played much of the year with rookie left winger Lawson Crouse. When was asked if he has tried to take Crouse under his wing, he laughed.
“I don’t think Crouser has much of a choice, to tell you the truth,” he said. “He’s been around me enough that I think it’s just rubbing off on him.”
Crouse believes that is a good thing.
“The energy he brings night in, night out, it’s pretty contagious whether I’m alongside him on the ice or just on the bench or listening to him in the room,” Crouse said. “He’s really helped me become the player I am this year.”
Crouse admitted it was eye-opening to hear the perspective of a guy who doesn’t expect to rise on the depth chart, but will still do the things necessary to rise on the depth chart.
“He’s explained that he’s been in this depth role his entire career. He wants me to eventually climb up, but he said ‘this is what you’re going to have to go through to get there,'” Crouse said. “That just speaks volumes about his character; the way that he accepts that role and plays to the best of his ability. Whether it’s physicality, speaking up in the room or popping the odd goal, it’s great to play alongside of him.”
Canadiens at Coyotes
When: 7 p.m., Thursday
Where: Gila River Arena, Glendale
TV: FOX Sports Arizona
Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM
Records: Coyotes — 17-28-6. Canadiens — 30-16-8.
Injury report: Coyotes — C Brad Richardson (broken right tibia and fibula) is out indefinitely. C Martin Hanzal missed practice on Wednesday due to illness, but he is expected to play. Canadiens — F Brendan Gallagher (hand) is on IR until early March.
Scouting the Canadiens: Montreal has lost four straight games and is 3-6-2 in its last 11 games. The Canadiens have been shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since March 24 and 26, 2011. … Their Atlantic Division lead over Ottawa and Toronto has slipped to eight points and the Senators have four games in hand; the Maple Leafs have three. … F Max Pacioretty leads the team with 25 goals and 44 points. … G Carey Price is 13th in the NHL in save percentage at .920. … The Canadiens’ power play is 0 for its last 11 over the last five games.
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