Pictou Advocate sports

A major reward to Colin White


I love a story like Colin White’s.

The New Glasgow hockey defenceman did something no Pictou County hockey player ever did before him. He played on two Stanley Cup championship teams.

For the record, he helped the New Jersey Devils win the coveted silverware in the 1999-2000 season. Then he did it a second time when he and the Devils took the cup again in 2002-03.

In just a four-year span, his name was engraved on the big trophy in two places. It will be there as long as Lord Stanley’s cup exists.

Those two triumphs climaxed White’s impressive career — a career that included 911 games. Of those, 114 of his appearances were in the post-season. I think those are pretty nice numbers. Indeed, his career was special.

Now, to make it even more special, the former blueliner has been selected to the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame. He will be inducted, along with four other Nova Scotia athletes, at an induction ceremony in November.

Well done, Colin.

It’s truly a fitting climax to the many achievements he attained in hockey.

As a defenceman — a defensive style of player at that — he had an uphill challenge to reach the top ever since his minor hockey days began in the county. Defensive defencemen usually go almost unnoticed in comparison to high-scoring forwards, talented goaltenders, even rearguards who get noticed by their offensive skills.

Yet, even as a hard-playing, defensive-minded player, White managed to collect 129 points, including 21 goals, in his 12 seasons with New Jersey. Good numbers for a stay-at-home defenceman. Confirming his tough style of play were the 869 minutes he spent in penalty boxes. He was an important cog in the Devils’ two championships, no question.

In whichever way we look at Colin’s career, in whichever way we analyze his accomplishments, he did it all by determination, hard work and dedication. He proved, without a doubt, that you don’t have to record lots of offensive arithmetic to be valuable to your team and your teammates.

As I mentioned at the start, I love to hear about stories like the one Colin began writing almost from the first time he put on skates.

You know, hockey has been played in New Glasgow for something like 150 years.

There was a rink built in the Washington Street area of town way back in the 1870s. Then there was the old Arena Rink downtown. Then there was New Glasgow Stadium, later called John Brother MacDonald Stadium. Now there is the modern Pictou County Wellness Centre.

Inside all those facilities, there were many rivalries, many winning teams, many provincial and Maritime championships through the generations. There was even the much-heralded Stanley Cup challenge by New Glasgow 110 years ago. There have been literally thousands of kids playing the game in the town, so many of them with youthful dreams of making it to the top. Yet look how seldom any get even a distant sniff at professional hockey.

No Pictou County hockey story was ever bigger than the one written by Jon Sim and Colin White in that five-season period between 1999 and 2003, when the two former midget teammates collected three Stanley Cup titles between them, the first by Sim with the Dallas Stars in 1999, followed by White’s pair. What a grand feat for New Glasgow, for Pictou County as a whole.

That was big stuff. It will remain big stuff in the county’s history as long as athletes play the game.

For a town that has struggled for generations to get its population to the 10,000 level, that’s a tremendous three-time achievement. In just five years! Everyone alive in the area when it happened will always remember sport’s most prestigious silverware coming to town with Sim and White. It was party time. Not one, not two, but three grand parties, three memorable parades up Provost Street.

Jon and Colin, who played together with the Weeks Construction organization in the Nova Scotia AAA Midget League on their way to the pro ranks, left all Pictonians — and former Pictonians as well — with something wonderful to remember for a long, long time.

New Glasgow, and other parts of the county, have developed many fine hockey players through the years, as well as fine ball players, boxers, golfers and athletes in many sports.

White and Sim, of course, weren’t the only Pictou County players to reach the NHL.

Thorburn’s Lowell MacDonald was there for 13 years and, despite some impressive scoring figures, he was never on a Stanley Cup champion. Derrick Walser, who came up through the Weeks organization with White and Sim, got some NHL experience, too. So did goaltender Joey MacDonald.

Getting to the top is a big thing. Playing for a champion is even bigger. Sim set the precedent for all future players from this region. And almost immediately, White raised the bar even higher. Imagine, if anyone is to break Colin’s record, it will take three winners to do so. What are the odds against that?

Another athletic reward that isn’t easy to accomplish is getting inducted into the province’s hall of fame. It’s where, when inducted, an athlete stands forever among Nova Scotia’s finest athletes.

Many have come close, but the number who have made it is much smaller. It’s not an easy step. You don’t get admitted just by being nominated.

The last Pictou County athlete to get a pew in the provincial hall was boxer Lawrence Hafey in 2013. The last hockey player from the county to be inducted was the late Frank (Danky) Dorrington in 2007.

Since the turn of the century, the only other Pictonians admitted in the athlete category were golfer Graham MacIntyre, of New Glasgow, and baseball pitcher Clyde Roy, from Westville, both chosen in 2003, and Westville-born boxer Jackie Hayden in 2005.

White, indeed, is joining very limited company.

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