Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Adrenaline rush for Ladd

Jets captain swarmed by hockey-mad fans at signing

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He was asked about 'Swaggerville' and the local real estate market.

He was quizzed for his thoughts on the new logo and if he's seen the jersey yet. Heck, if Winnipeg Jet Andrew Ladd had stood there long enough he might have been pressured for a prediction on the upcoming provincial election and for his takes on everything from the revolt in Libya to the breakup of Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly.

Welcome to Winnipeg, Mr. Ladd.

Welcome to life under the microscope in this NHL hockey-obsessed town.

"It's crazy," said Ladd with a grin Friday while gearing up to sign autographs for fans at a computer store on Marion Street. "I don't think guys realize how big it is here until they get to town. It's going to be interesting to see how guys adapt to it, but it's going to be a lot of fun.

"There's lots of excitement now with guys coming in and training camp just around the corner. It's fun to come to the city and hang out and be here."

The buzz about the National Hockey League's return to Winnipeg has been a huge national story this summer. That's been a given for anyone on the ground here since 'The Announcement' back on May 31.

But as more and more players filter into town for the opening of training camp next month, their reaction to the vibe here must have the executives at NHL headquarters clicking their heels together.

"It's all been positive," said Ladd. "I think guys are excited to get into town and it seems like there's a buzz all over the country, not just in Winnipeg. Being in Penticton, B.C., where they're having the prospect tournament, people there are excited to see the Jets there. Guys are just excited to get started."

Officially, that won't start until rookies practice at MTS IcePlex on Sept. 10-11 before heading to Penticton for the NHL's Young Stars tournament that also includes Vancouver, Edmonton, San Jose and Calgary.

Veterans will be on the ice at MTS Centre a week later with the season-opening game taking place on Oct. 9 against the Montreal Canadiens following six exhibition contests.

And with every game and every player appearance certain to draw a crowd like the one Friday, Ladd is hopeful that if managed properly it will fuel his team.

"You can use that to your advantage," he said. "We're going to be so jacked up to play every night and to get going into training camp even more than you usually would, so I think we can use that to our advantage and get a good start.

"It's fun going to the rink know that that atmosphere is always going to be there... hearing the anthem, the puck drop and the crowd going nuts, it's something you can use to your advantage."

For the record -- and not surprisingly -- Ladd loves the simple, clean look of the Jets' new logo and can't wait to see it on a jersey.

And as for the Blue Bomber defence and their 'Swaggerville' moniker?

Two thumbs up from the Jets' captain.

"I've heard about it," said Ladd. "Hey, it's something you need when you're growing a good winning team. When we were in Chicago we had that 'Let's swagger' and I think any good team has a little of it."

LOGO REVIEW: The latest edition of The Hockey News published the results from a poll they conducted on the NHL's best logos. Some 11,300 fans responded with the Chicago Blackhawks finishing first overall with 18 per cent of the vote, followed by the Detroit Red Wings (11), Montreal Canadiens (8) and Toronto Maple Leafs (6).

Interestingly, the Jets finished tied with and Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers and Edmonton Oilers for next spot on the rankings with four per cent.

The bottom-ranked teams, all tied with one per cent of the vote, were Anaheim, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix and Tampa Bay.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 27, 2011 C9

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