By Martin Cleary
Twenty-five years ago, Todd White was having the time of his life as a hockey player.
A graduating senior at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York, White was playing for the No. 2-ranked team in the NCAA. He had a career-best, regular-season 74 points (38 goals and 36 assists) in 1996-97, which was the last season a Golden Knights player recorded 70 or more points in one campaign.
White was selected the ECAC conference Player of the Year, a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in men’s NCAA hockey and to two all-star teams.
The Chicago Blackhawks took notice and signed him as a free agent to his first NHL contract, which kick started White’s 14-year career in the world’s premier hockey league with six teams, including his hometown Ottawa Senators. He scored his first goal with Chicago during his seven games as a Blackhawk.
When the Clarkson University men’s hockey program reached its 100th anniversary this season, the school paid tribute to an elite group of student-athletes responsible for building one of the NCAA’s most productive programs.
A panel of 10 people affiliated with Clarkson hockey named its All-Century Team and White was voted onto the First Line as one of three forwards along with Dave Taylor (1973-77) and Corby Adams (1961-64). Completing the top line on the four-line All-Century team were Steve Warr (1969-72) and Bill Blackwood (1974-78) on defence and Bruce Bullock (1968-71) as goalkeeper.
The first Clarkson player to be a two-time All-American, Warr joined the Ottawa Nationals of the World Hockey Association after his graduation. He registered three goals, eight assists and 79 penalty minutes in 72 games during the Nationals’ only season in Ottawa (1972-73).
“I didn’t know anything like this was in the works,” White said in a telephone interview this week. “I am humbled to be named to the team. There have been a lot of great players at Clarkson over the years. I was fortunate to be part of great teams and have great teammates.”
After playing two seasons with the former Kanata Valley Lasers of the Central Junior Hockey League and recording 90 goals and 136 assists for 226 points in 104 games, White earned a hockey scholarship to Clarkson.
In all four seasons as a Golden Knights centre, his goals and assists numbers were always in the double-digit category. He combined for 24 goals and 27 assists in 67 games during his first two seasons. But he broke loose in his junior and senior years with point productions that haven’t been seen at Clarkson since his final year.
During his 1995-96 season, he scored 29 goals and added a career-high 43 assists for 72 points in 38 games. That earned him a berth on the All-ECAC second all-star team as well as the American Hockey Coaches’ Association East second All-American team.
White stepped up his game in his senior season (1996-97) and the only letdown was not seeing the Golden Knights reach the NCAA’s Frozen Four men’s hockey championship tournament for the third straight year.
White averaged more than one goal a game, when he counted 38 goals in 37 games and chipped in with 36 assists for 74 points. He was the ECAC Player of the Year and was promoted to first-team status when the ECAC and AHCA selected their all-star squads. White also was named to the ECAC hockey championship tournament team in 1997.
In his junior and senior years, White saw more ice time, especially on the powerplay, which led to more confidence and more points. In his career, White scored 91 goals and added 106 assists for 197 points in 172 games.
“We had a really good class two years ahead of me and they occupied a lot of the power-play time,” White said. “When they graduated, it opened up spots for my class.”
White also had vision issues in his left eye in his sophomore year, but season-ending cataract surgery resolved that issue. At the same time, he also had a great summer of off-ice training entering his final two seasons as a Golden Knight.
The Clarkson men’s hockey program has produced 33 first-team All-Americans and 16 on the second team as well as six ECAC Player-of-the-Year winners and six players selected as Rookie-of-the-Year.
The Golden Knights have seen 25 of their alumni become NHL players, including White, who skated for Chicago, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Minnesota, Atlanta and the New York Rangers from 1997-2011.
He played 653 regular-season games and 43 playoff games in the NHL. His regular-season totals were 141 goals and 240 assists for 381 points. In his 43 playoff games, the majority of which came when he played for the Ottawa Senators from 2000-04, he had eight goals and three assists.
He achieved three 20-goal seasons: Ottawa, 20 in 2001-02 and 25 in 2002-03 as well as Atlanta, 22 in 2008-09, playing on a line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little.
White’s pro career also included stints in the now-defunct International Hockey League (196 games, 100 goals, 111 assists, 211 points) and the AHL (41 games, 22 goals, 26 assists, 48 points).
Today, White is one of four pro scouts with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. He has served in that role for two years, but the 2021-22 season is his first full season.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 50 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the High Achievers “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @martincleary.
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