Jets without a pilot
JORDAN HASLBECK, SPORTS COLUMNIST
It seems like the writing was on the wall a while ago, but some fans still had a sliver of hope that Andrew Ladd would remain a Jet.
The hockey world learned on Feb. 25, about an hour before the Jets took on the Dallas Stars, that Ladd’s time in Winnipeg had come to an end, and that he would be headed to the Windy City.
It’s a sort of homecoming for Ladd who won a Stanley Cup with Chicago in 2010. Ladd played mostly on the third line from 2007 to 2010, before salary cap issues led the team to trade him to the Atlanta Thrashers.
It wasn’t long after True North bought the Thrashers and announced they were moving the team to Winnipeg that they named Ladd team captain.
Ladd’s presence in the media was fairly ordinary. He never said anything that got you thinking this man was, without doubt, the team’s leader.
He also never said the wrong thing.
He was a leader on the ice, leading the Jets in points for two of the four full seasons he spent in Winnipeg. He was also a huge part of the reason the Jets saw a playoff birth last season, as he played through the pain of a sports hernia.
Paul Maurice told the media after the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs that the respect he had for Ladd was unparalleled, considering what he was going through.
Ladd was also a great leader outside of the rink. He was a big voice for the Special Olympics, partnering with them in a variety of fundraisers and activities. He was the Special Olympics golf tournament’s celebrity host.
All his leadership on and off the ice got him nominated for the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award. The award ended up going to Jonathan Toews, who Ladd will now play alongside again.
But not everyone is sad Ladd is moving on. Lots of people thought his point production didn’t justify his salary. Others thought his skill didn’t line up with his first-line status.
Personally, I think he was a good addition to the Jets on the ice and a great addition to the city of Winnipeg off the ice.
So thank you, Andrew Ladd.
Jordan Haslbeck is a reporter for Bison Sports and a mediocre beer-league hockey defenseman. He co-hosts Not Even the Press Box, a weekly radio show about the Winnipeg Jets at radio. rrc.ca.