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Players not rattled: Ladd

Still have same mindset, Jets captain says

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The pre-season games are all gone -- the rest of them canceled on Thursday -- and NHL regular-season contests are only days from the chopping block.

The immediacy of that isn't rattling NHL players one bit, Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Friday, the 14th day of the dispute between league owners and the NHL Players Association.

"No, I think we have the same mindset as all along," Ladd said after yet another on-their-own workout Friday at the MTS Iceplex.

"I've said before that I think we knew this was going to be their play in the negotiation, waiting until we missed games.

"Unfortunately, we saw this coming and now we're just kind of in the wait-and-see mode and hopefully they step up and actually start negotiating."

The sides got back to the bargaining table on Friday in New York.

"I think it's great they've agreed to talk," Ladd said. "Any time there's communication, hopefully it leads to something.

"There's probably still a long way to go but talking is a good start. You're not going to get anywhere just sitting there waiting. It's nice to hear they're going to talk and hopefully it leads somewhere."

Earlier in the week, Ladd's good friend and former teammate Jonathan Toews made some very pointed comments about the league and its owners with respect to the lockout.

"We saw what the (owners) did in '04-05, and who knows if they're willing to do that again," Toews told the Chicago Tribune. "To me, it's just carelessness. It's them just trying to show everyone that they're the owners and they're the league. They can do whatever they want.

"If they want to hurt their own game and drive it into the ground, that's what they'll do. Even if it comes down to that, it doesn't matter as long as they get what they want."

While the comments turned some heads, Ladd said he wasn't surprised in the least.

"Johnny's a passionate guy and speaks from his heart," he said. "That's genuinely how he feels and that goes across the league pretty strongly for guys and how they see what's going on with the negotiation and how this has been their play from the start. It doesn't sit well with the players. Their original offer, even from that aspect, was somewhat disrespectful.

"Coming from our end, we wanted, and I think you saw in our proposal, that we started off with a place we thought we could negotiate in good faith and get a deal done. Where they started off, they didn't really have any intention."

Ladd repeated the players' hope for a "fair deal" and added that he didn't think the owners were going about matters the right way.

"Just trying to grind us down for everything we've got just isn't the right way to go," he said.

Friday, the on-ice group that included Jets teammates Bryan Little, Mark Stuart, Alexander Burmistrov, Antti Miettinen, Jim Slater plus Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer, was sporting NHLPA jerseys for the first time since the lockout began.

The appearance of those jerseys has been a customary practice in previous NHL labour stoppages.

"I guess we're all on the same team right now so we should be wearing the same jerseys," Ladd said. "It's nice to get our brand out there, to show some unity. Just another thing we're going to do during the lockout."

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 29, 2012 C4

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