Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ladd won't be a comrade

Jets captain opts to quash KHL deal, stay with pregnant wife

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Over the past couple of days Winnipeg Jets' captain Andrew Ladd has been pulled in two different directions while his emotions were twisted around like a size-large pretzel.

Frustrated by the ongoing stalemate that is the NHL lockout, Ladd set his sights on playing in Siberia with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League and then promptly pulled the pin on the deal hours after the announcement.

Around the same time, the NHL made official the news so many had expected for so long by cancelling 82 regular-season games from Oct. 11-24, including five involving Ladd's Jets.

Oh, and did we mention Ladd and his wife Brandy are expecting their first child?

"It's all happened so quick," Ladd told the Free Press. "I was talking to (the KHL team) and they kept asking, 'We need to know. We need to know...' and so we did it.

"But the more we thought about it, the more I decided to change my mind. My wife is pregnant and I couldn't really justify leaving her by herself. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I didn't want to leave."

Yes, if he were to document this chapter of his life, it might best be titled: 'To and from Russia, for love.'

"I thought I could go over there for a short amount of time and, best case of scenario, the lockout would be done by the due date," Ladd said. "She would have tried to come over, but I don't know if I was comfortable with that. I just didn't want to leave her alone and there are so many things I just didn't want to miss out on."

Ladd practised with a handful of his Jet teammates at MTS Iceplex on Wednesday and then formally agreed to join the Avangard Omsk Hawks, a club based in the southwestern part of Siberia, later in the day.

The team splashed his signing on the front of their website early Thursday morning, heralding him as a 'classic Canadian forward.'

"I had talked to as many people I could and from what I heard it is a great organization and one of the best over there," said Ladd. "I talked to (Alex) Burmistrov about it and guys that had been over there... I would have been comfortable with going over there, but I kept coming back to not wanting to leave Brandy by herself.

"I feel bad for the team. They were really good to me and have given me the opportunity to play. At first I thought it was a good chance to play in the best league going right now. But after thinking about it, it wasn't the right decision. It's something I went back and forth with for the last couple of days. I wasn't sure how long that opportunity was going to be out there so I first decided to take it. This now makes more sense."

A number of NHL players, locked out since Sept. 15th, have been finding work in the KHL and in pro leagues in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Ladd would have been the second Canadian-born Jet to head to the KHL after teammate Evander Kane signed with Dinamo Minsk last weekend. Alex Ponikarovsky is with Donbass Donestk while Nik Antropov is playing with Barys Astana.

What pushed Ladd to first sign with Avangard was the expectation of the news that came Thursday when the NHL spiked the first chunk of games on its regular-season schedule.

"That's why I made the decision in the first place... I'm just sitting around here and I want to play games," said Ladd. "You see highlights, even if they are just highlights from over there, and you kind of get the itch to be a part of it.

"It's frustrating. We'll have to try and find ways to stay busy, just like everybody else who doesn't have hockey -- especially right now when I look out my window and it's snowing."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

 

Crash and burn

The NHL's decision to cancel regular-season games from Oct. 11-24 affects five Winnipeg Jet games. Here are the games have been flushed:

Saturday, Oct. 13 - Hurricanes @ Jets

Tuesday, Oct. 16 - Blackhawks @ Jets

Friday, Oct. 19 - Jets vs. Capitals

Saturday, Oct. 20 - Jets vs. Flyers

Tuesday, Oct. 23 - Capitals @ Jets

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2012 C1

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