White plays for first time this season despite eye injury

Updated: November 21, 2007, 11:59 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Colin White played for the first time this season Wednesday night, taking regular shifts during a 2-1 victory in Pittsburgh nine weeks after a deflected shot during practice damaged his right eye.

White has blurred vision in his injured eye, but wanted to test his sight during game action. He resumed practicing two weeks ago but, until Tuesday, had skated only with the Devils' extra players and not with the regulars.

"His presence showed," goaltender Martin Brodeur said. "That's a big body and a big stick."

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound White played 17 minutes, 25 seconds in 23 shifts. He was credited with six of the Devils' 15 hits and blocked two shots.

"I kept it simple and it worked out," White said. "It's always nice to get back on the ice. Everybody played so hard, it was a total team effort and it was nice to be part of that."

After being hurt Sept. 15, White stayed off skates for a month.

White, expected be one of the Devils' top two defensemen, can play up to 20 games before deciding whether his vision is good enough to continue his career. If he stops playing before then, he can retire and qualify for NHL permanent disability benefits.

The way he was talking after the game, White believes he can play with no appreciable effect on his game. White played on the Devils' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 2000 and 2003.

"You kind of get used to it," White said of his altered vision. "You don't really remember what you were [before]. If I close my other eye, I can see a big difference. But when you keep them both open, your other eye takes over so much."

White, who turns 30 next month, has 15 goals and 64 assists in 465 career NHL games. He is making $3 million this season.

"I can find the puck, and I felt pretty good," said White, who is now wearing a visor. "It will take a couple of games to get my legs totally back under me. I'll just keep it short, keep it simple and build up my conditioning."

New York Islanders defenseman Bryan Berard resumed his career despite nearly losing his right eye when struck by Marian Hossa's stick in a 2000 game, when Berard played for Toronto. Berard sat out one season but returned with the Rangers in the 2001-02 season.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press