Andrew Ladd will readily admit this: he loves playing hockey well into June -- especially if the season concludes with him hoisting the Stanley Cup over his head.
And so for the Winnipeg Jet captain, playing in next month’s IIHF World Hockey Championships will have to provide his spring fix for the two-time NHL champ.
"I’m excited to play some more hockey for sure," Ladd said Wednesday prior to a quick skate at MTS Iceplex. "It’s fun to be playing hockey at this time of year. Obviously we came up short with what we were trying to do (with the Jets), but this is another opportunity to play and to win.
"We’re going to have a good team going over there. That in itself is exciting and there’s the chance to play with some top-end guys, too."
Ladd was contacted by Team Canada officials not long after the Jets were officially eliminated from the playoff picture. The 26-year-old has twice worn Canada’s colours before – winning gold at the World Junior Championships in Grand Forks in 2005 and then serving as an alternate captain at last year’s IIHF’s Worlds, a tournament in which Canada lost in the quarter-finals.
"It’s fun. I had a great time last year. Unfortunately, we lost in the quarters which sucks," said Ladd. " I’m looking forward to doing better than that this year."
Ladd will fly to Zurich on Thursday and the team will stay in Switzerland and play a couple of exhibition games before the championships start on May 4th in Helskini and Stockholm. Canada’s first game is against Slovakia on May 4th with the championship game scheduled for May 20th.
Joining Ladd on Team Canada are Jet teammate Evander Kane and NHL stars like Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, John Tavares, Ryan Nugent-Hoplins and Jeff Skinner. The team will be coached by former Calgary Flames’ boss Brent Sutter, who also coached Ladd in Grand Forks at the world juniors.
The results from this year’s championship are huge as they will affect the seeding for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
"That’s a big thing, but going there you put a lot of pressure on yourself to win either way," said Ladd. "It’s a long commitment… it’s a month, so you don’t want to put in that commitment and come away empty. Last year when we lost in the quarters it sucked and it left a bitter taste in your mouth.
"The expectation for Canada every year is to win gold."