He doesn’t have a new contract yet, but Andrew Ladd’s first impressions of Winnipeg and his potential new hockey address were all good.
Ladd, the leading scorer and team captain of the Atlanta Thrashers last season, was in town to meet with new GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and team owner Mark Chipman. And while the actual nuts and bolts on a new deal were apparently not addressed — at least, not yet — the Winnipeg management team has made no secret getting his name on a contract is high atop their list of priorities.
Ladd is scheduled to become a restricted free agent on July 1. Last year he signed a one-year deal with the Thrashers for $2.35 million to avoid arbitration.
"We haven’t talked (contract) at all," said Ladd while facing the media in the Manitoba Moose dressing room. "I know they’ve got a lot of things on their plate with the draft coming up and they’re still dealing with staff stuff. It’ll come probably in the next few days I’m sure we’ll start talking and getting going.
"I’m here to check things out, meet all the staff, see the facility and check out the city this afternoon and see what it’s all about. So far so good. I’ve been really impressed with their vision on what kind of culture they have here and the way they see things going."
A two-time Stanley-Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes, Ladd had begun contract talks on an extension with former Thrashers GM Rick Dudley in the spring and the two sides had been making progress. But that was before the franchise sale and relocation from Atlanta to Winnipeg.
"It’s a starting process to come in here and see what it’s like. It’s a big commitment on both sides. It’s not something either side takes lightly. But first impressions were great and I’m looking forward to working with them."
Ladd’s agent is Mark Mackay, a former Winnipegger who planned to tour him around the various Winnipeg neighbourhoods and cool spots. His client is getting married next month in Las Vegas but if things can get done quickly he and his bride could be house-shopping in advance of their big day.
In any case, Ladd and his teammates have been impressed with the buzz around the city while watching from afar. Ladd got a chance to start experiencing that first hand on Wednesday.
"It’s been amazing," he said. "It was crazy to see and as a player it’s fun to see that and it kind of gets excited about coming into town and getting the season started in October.
"I’ve talked to lots of guys. Everyone’s excited to get going here, eager to check the city out and see what’s going on here and check out the facilities. Hopefully after today I’ll be able to give them a better idea of what it’s like."
The most recent captain of the Atlanta Thrashers, Andrew Ladd, was introduced to Manitoba media this morning.
As a new member of the as-yet-unnamed Winnipeg NHL team, Ladd was swarmed by media as the first player in town for a public press event.
Watch a replay of the session below.