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Looking around in downtime

Ladd weighing work in Europe, but still skating with Jets buds

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IT'S not just a line drawn in the sand that separates the National Hockey League and the NHL Players' Association right now.

No, the divide is a deep, deep trench.

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Although the lockout is less than a week old, the evidence is mounting that the frustration might only separate the two sides further.

Case in point: Winnipeg Jets' captain Andrew Ladd was asked Wednesday if there were any plans to get more of his teammates together for controlled scrimmages as a unit.

His answer hammered home how divisive the lockout has already become.

"We're locked out," Ladd said. "(Getting more guys in Winnipeg) is helping the Winnipeg Jets... you know what I mean? This is a lockout. Our main priority isn't to stay ready for them, it's more for ourselves."

Make no mistake, Ladd didn't spit out those words in disgust, but in a calm manner that was both a hint at the NHLPA's resolve and the harsh reality of the situation.

So on a day in which the league cancelled all preseason games to the end of September, including four involving the Jets -- two at home, one in Edmonton and the other in Saskatoon -- Ladd skated with the likes of Alex Burmistrov, Olli Jokinen, Antti Miettinen, Bryan Little, Derek Meech, Ivan Telegin, Kevin Clark and Jason Gregoire.

But there's a very real possibility that number will dwindle, not grow, as the lockout drags on into October. Ladd said he's continuing to explore his options in Europe while weighing insurance costs and how the move might affect him and his wife.

"There's a lot of things that go into it," he said. "Insurance is a big one; that's not cheap these days, so a team over there has to be willing to take on that.

"Beyond that, it's finding a place that's going to be comfortable for you and your family. For me, it's not about the money; it's more about finding a comfortable place to live and maybe experiencing something different."

And then there's this: If nothing else, getting away from North America might take players like Ladd away from the microscope during the lockout and free him from constantly fielding a question for which he has no answer.

"Everyone asks, 'How long is (the lockout) going to be?' We don't know," he said.

"It's tough to be patient, but at the same time, that's what it's going to take to get a fair deal from our side, and we know that and we're ready for that.

"Obviously we want to get a deal done as quickly as possible, but we understand that we're just four days into it and probably things weren't going to change until a little farther down the road.

"Hopefully, we can get some discussions going and work towards getting a deal done."

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

A CHANGE OF PACE

The lockout stuff can be overwhelming, so here's a different discussion point, courtesy of Hockey Prospectus. The website ranks its top 100 prospects, of which the top 10 are: 1. Nail Yakupov, Edmonton; 2. Mikael Granlund, Minnesota; 3. Mikhail Grigorenko, Buffalo; 4. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington; 5. Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida; 6. Alexander Galchenyuk, Montreal; 7. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis; 8. Dougie Hamilton, Boston; 9. Ryan Strome, Islanders; 10. Filip Forsberg, Washington.

Just FYI, four Winnipeg Jets prospects are on the list: Mark Scheifele (28), Jacob Trouba (42), Ivan Telegin (66) and Paul Postma (100).

-- Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 20, 2012 C4

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