He's all White

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Ian White played for the first time in 12 regular-season games last night and felt so rusty, he compared himself to an inanimate object.

"I think I'm similar to one of those utility golf clubs," he said. "Good out of the rough, (and) good from the short (grass)."

What the 24-year-old defenceman was alluding to was the fact that he started his first game of the regular season at forward -- and did so for the first time in his NHL career (he did play three pre-season games up front) -- and ended the game playing defence.

He even scored, on a nice snap shot from the slot that beat Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Michael Leighton to the top left-hand corner of the net to give the Maple Leafs a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Toronto eventually lost 6-4.

The young defenceman, who played 81 games for Toronto last season, was relieved to get some game time.

"I was a little surprised," said White, who wasn't told he would be playing until just after the warmup. "But I figured it had to be sooner or later. And when you get the opportunity, you've got to (take advantage). I thought I'd be a little rusty, but I felt pretty good."

CHANCE TO PLAY

Another defenceman who has seen little action of late but got the chance to play last night was Carlo Colaiacovo, who had been a healthy scratch in seven of the past eight games.

Colaiacovo, though, didn't fare as well as White. The Toronto native started, but didn't finish, playing just one shift in the third period.

Head coach Ron Wilson said his absence was the result of coming up lame after blocking a shot, although Colaiacovo struggled at times, including taking a unnecessary delay of game penalty in the second period.

The Leafs are carrying nine healthy defencemen, and general manager Cliff Fletcher has said that sooner or later, he will likely trade one for a forward. It will likely be Colaiacovo or White, though the latter isn't too worried.

"Whatever happens, happens," White said. "I just want to be on the ice. It's great playing here. I have tons of friends here. But, you look at the numbers, someone does have to move. So I'm for anything. I just want to play hockey."

White admitted it's been extremely frustrating sitting, but insisted he hasn't asked for a trade.

"You talk about it and you think about it, but the grass isn't always greener," he said. "But like they said, something's got to happen. You don't carry nine (defencemen)."


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