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Ian White is making Brian Rafalski’s retirement easy to handle in Detroit

Oct 17, 2011, 7:45 AM EDT

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Cory Emmerton, Ian White AP

“Who’s Brian Rafalski?”

That’s the question fans in Detroit might be asking thanks to the play of offseason free agent pickup Ian White. In Detroit’s undefeated start through four games, White has picked up two goals and an assist and helped make sure that Red Wings faithful aren’t missing their former stud defenseman in Rafalski.

White has bounced around over the past two years playing on four different teams (Calgary, Toronto, Carolina, and San Jose) but now that he’s landed in Detroit, he’s giving them the offensive steadiness that Rafalski always used to. He can move the puck, he can play responsible enough defense, and he’s making sure younger guys like Jonathan Ericsson and Jakub Kindl aren’t forced into playing too many minutes of their own when they’re not ready.

Instead, White’s veteran savvy mixes well with the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brad Stuart, and Niklas Kronwall and gives Detroit’s top four on defense. White’s play even has Kronwall saying that he plays like Rafalski but with more of an edge to his game. It’s not like Rafalski was ever the toughest guy on the block. Having a bit more sandpaper to your game goes a long way in the NHL, especially out West.

Detroit always used to be the team making the big move in the offseason, now they’re just making the smartest ones.

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