Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Being with baby a no-brainer decision for Jets captain

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SAN JOSE -- The Winnipeg Jets have their captain back but will have to wait a little longer for their goalie.

Jets captain Andrew Ladd rejoined the Jets in San Jose on Wednesday and will be in the lineup tonight against the Sharks.

"If they'll let me," laughed Ladd, after a short chat with the media at the Sharks practice facility.

Ladd missed Monday's game against the Dallas Stars to rush back to Winnipeg for the birth of his second child, a still-to-be-named daughter.

The Jets will head into action tonight with a record of 32-32-9 for 73 points in the Western Conference and sitting nine points out of a wild-card berth with nine games to go. The Sharks sit second in the West with 103 points and are one of the league's best teams.

'It was an easy decision for me. I got home around midnight on Sunday night and the baby was already born. It was a quick labour. I felt it was right to stay and make sure my wife and my daughter were OK. We don't have any family in town and I wanted to be there to support them'

-- Andrew Ladd

"You're going to have to work your butts off. You have to put out more effort to compete with them," said Jets coach Paul Maurice, when asked about facing the Sharks. "They're fast, they're skilled, they're disciplined. They're down their program. They've got it down."

Jets No. 1 goalie Ondrej Pavelec took part in his first full practice with the team but will miss at least one more game and backup Al Montoya will make his sixth straight start.

"That was (Pavelec's) first full practice and we want to see how he feels. We'll see how he comes through the morning skate (Thursday)," said head coach Paul Maurice. "I don't have him playing here. He's been out 11 days. Get through this, do the same thing (Thursday) and then we'll start talking about L.A."

Pavelec says he's close if not already set to go.

"We'll see. I'm feeling good. It was a good practice. We had a good practice as a team and we tried to get ready for (Thursday)," said Pavelec. "We'll see. We've got one more day. It's going to the coaching staff and the medical guys' decision. So we'll see."

Ladd and his wife, Brandy, now have a son and a daughter and he described the odyssey of leaving Winnipeg with his team intending to play Monday against the Dallas Stars before getting the call to turn around and get home.

"A bit of a whirlwind. Got to Dallas and was on a bus to the hotel and got a call from my wife saying that she was going into labour. Then I had to arrange travel back and get there as quickly as possible," said Ladd. "It was great to spend as much time with my new daughter as possible and now it's great to get back to the guys and what I love to do. She doesn't have a name yet. My wife's on one side and I'm on the other and it's a bit of a tug of war right now."

Ladd said it wasn't a tough choice.

"It was an easy decision for me. I got home around midnight on Sunday night and the baby was already born. It was a quick labour," said Ladd. "I felt it was right to stay and make sure my wife and my daughter were OK. We don't have any family in town and I wanted to be there to support them."

For Ladd, family comes first.

"I don't think there's anything else but family. For me, it's my No. 1 priority and it trumps everything else in life for me. So it was a pretty easy decision," said the two-time Stanley Cup winner, who had played in 233 consecutive games before missing his first as a Jet on Monday.

Maurice was happy to see his captain back with the group.

"If he's any kind of decent human being there will be some decent cigars handed out when we get back to Canada... they don't seem to have that tradition here with the Winnipeg Jets but the coach is going to try and start one. It's not healthy so you can't push it," said Maurice, before wading into the subject of letting Ladd join his family and miss a game. "It's easy to say that you're family first until there's a cost to it. Then when there's a cost to it, people will ask if it's a good rule. It is. Bang on, 100 per cent. You have to have conviction of who you are and what you do. We're family first here and if your wife's having a baby, you're going to be there for her. Make your commitments and then stand by them."

Jets forward Blake Wheeler had a scary tumble, crashing his shoulder into the open Stars bench on Monday but he was back on the ice Wednesday.

"At first it was a lot of pain and I was a little scared, but once I got back there (to the dressing room) I knew that nothing serious was wrong," said Wheeler.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 27, 2014 D2

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