Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ladd has skills he could add to Canada

Being 50-goal man isn't everything

  • Print

CALGARY -- Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman says there are no long shots with this group but, of course, there are and Andrew Ladd is one of them.

The Winnipeg Jets captain and one of the NHL's most underrated players is considered by many to be a second-tier player slotted into a first-tier role on a bad team.

On the surface the premise holds water, as Ladd skates on the top line of a non-playoff team. But the premise breaks down for one reason: Ladd is not second-rate.

Maybe he doesn't have a skill that stands out, such as blinding speed or elite ice vision, but he puts all his tools together for a rare complete package.

There is no team in the NHL that wouldn't want Andrew Ladd; his versatility makes him invaluable.

"When you're building a national team there are different roles and the conversations with the coaching staff have been all about building a team," said Team Canada coaching consultant Ralph Krueger. "The 14 forwards all have to have character. Andrew might not be seen as a top six guy but Andrew understands the 200-foot game and his understanding of winning is key. Every game here is a Game 7 and when you have a player with two Stanley Cups, he understands that part of the game. Andrew is in the mix."

Ladd need only look around to realize he's not in the upper crust of this group in terms of scoring. But the quiet confidence that underpins everything Ladd has achieved as a hockey player bubbles over a bit when that fact is pushed in his direction.

"They're not looking for just goals and assists and points. That's one thing I've done pretty well in my career and that's play the right way. If the puck isn't going in that's OK. It can work the other way too. Sometimes you're not playing very well and the puck is going in, but I think I'm pretty good at knowing I have to stick to the basics," he said.

"I think I skate well enough. It hasn't been a problem for me at world championships. I've played different roles there too, from a checker to a top-six forward. I don't think I've struggled at all. I'll get there."

Krueger adds the larger ice surface used at this Olympics will provide difficulties for some players, but not Ladd.

"You have to be very good positionally and an above average skater, which Andrew is," said Krueger, who has been tasked with figuring out a way to translate the Canadian team's strengths into success on the big ice. "You have to understand the angles and he's very good at that. He's been schooled very well."

Getting off to a strong start this season is pivotal. Ladd will have to score goals to keep his name in the conversation but he can't stray from the foundation his game is built upon.

"Skating and checking for me are key. When I'm doing that I'm on the body and on the puck. If I don't do that I'm not playing my best hockey," said Ladd, who potted 18 goals last season and has 75 over the last three campaigns. "The only negative effect it can have is if you start thinking you're better than you are and you start playing the wrong way. For me, my game starts with checking and the offence comes from that. My game is skating and checking and after you get the puck you have some freedom to try and make plays."

Ladd paid close attention to the rash of contracts Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was able to complete this summer, including those of linemates Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little. The suggestion was made to him on Tuesday that Cheveldayoff had done his part and now the players must do theirs and develop into a consistent winner.

"Yep, for sure. First of all those guys deserve that. They've been a very important part of our team and if they weren't part of our team going forward there would have been some big holes to fill," said Ladd. "As a group we have to be ready to take the next step."

Ladd said he'd be leaving Calgary and making his way back to Winnipeg to begin final preparations for the regular season. Putting a winning Jets team on the ice is one goal, but making the Olympic team will also be on one of his front burners.

"I'll really only be happy if I get named to the final roster. It's nice to be here but the goal is to be in Sochi. That's the only thing that will make me happy," said Ladd.

The 27-year-old also sees some benefit to having himself and a number of teammates trying to make Olympic rosters.

"We've got a lot of guys on the U.S. side (four) that will be looking to make an impression with a good start and be in contention to make that team. If we can do it as a group and have success with our team, that's good for everyone," he said.

Good for everyone, and maybe most importantly, good for Jets fans.

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 28, 2013 D1

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Sanders gives other candidates a reality check

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100527-Winnipeg Free Press THe Provencher Foot Bridge is lit up
  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

Poll

Which Jets prospect has the best chance of making NHL team this season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google