Leafs try White at forward

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 2:33 AM ET

DETROIT -- Rather than sulk or worry, Maple Leafs defenceman Ian White embraced head coach Ron Wilson's decision to move him to forward last night.

In fact, White, who played a solid game in Toronto's 5-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena, said that he wouldn't mind if the move from defence to forward became a permanent one.

"I'm excited. I've always wanted to try my hand at playing forward," White said. "I think it might be a good move."

White, who has played 169 regular-season NHL games at defence and none at forward, played right wing with Matt Stajan at centre and Alex Steen at left wing. The line accounted for Toronto first goal, with Steen scoring as a result of good work in the boards by Stajan and White, both of whom picked up assists.

"Apparently, tomorrow I'm strapping on the pads (and playing goal). I have no idea what they've been cookin' up, but I'll play wherever they need me," White said with a laugh.

The primary reason for the move was because the Leafs are somewhat decimated at forward, with the likes of Dominic Moore and Nikolas Kulemin out because of injuries, and have an excess of defencemen. In any event, the Steinbach, Man., native is hoping that last night's deal was not a one-shot proposition. Wilson suggested that it won't be.

"Ian did a great job. He skated, stirred some things up, drew two penalties, really set up our first goal on a great forechecking effort. I didn't expect that," Wilson said. "He can also go back and play the point on the power play if he's playing forward, that something we can think about,"

"I haven't thought about it too much in depth," White said of switching permanently to forward. "But if it works, it works. If it doesn't, you go back to where you've been good at.

"But I have high expectations for myself, and I know it's going to go well," he said.

White certainly has an offensive side to his game and he might be the best Leafs defenceman with the puck behind Tomas Kaberle and Carlo Colaiacovo.

There have been suggestions for years that White would make a better forward then defenceman.

At 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, he is on the smallish side for an NHL defenceman.


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