It’s been a summer with a different feel for Andrew Ladd and the Winnipeg Jets.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/8/2015 (2098 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It’s been a summer with a different feel for Andrew Ladd and the Winnipeg Jets.

The captain, who turns 30 in December, has spent time recovering from May surgery to repair a sports hernia, so he wasn’t as active as he’d have liked early in the off-season.

Ladd also said in a telephone interview from his B.C. home this week there’s a different off-season attitude about his team and teammates after they reached a franchise-record 99 points and qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring.

It was the first time for that since the franchise relocated to Winnipeg in 2011.

"I think there has been a little, in terms of we know what we have and what we’re capable of and what’s expected of us," he said. "Everyone knows going into camp what the expectation from Paul (Maurice, head coach) is and what it is from each other right from the first day we show up.

"And there will be a bigger comfort in terms of what we do on the ice. We implemented a new neutral zone that probably took us a while to get used to. There will be less thought (now) on where you need to be and what you need to do. So there’s that part."

Those elements helped the Jets finish in the NHL’s top 10 teams in goals against.

The off-season differences don’t end there, Ladd added.

"And then the excitement," he said. "I’ve said this before, that we dealt with a lot of adversity last year in a lot of different ways. I think that gave just a lot of confidence to deal with things. You’re excited when you have a healthy lineup, to start the season with a full roster.

"We know what we’re capable of with a full roster and we have that excitement of the summer going into a full year."

For Ladd personally, the window to extend his contract opened July 1. He can become an unrestricted free agent next summer but had nothing to say on that subject this week, adding he was more focused on the team issues for 2015-16.

On that front, the veteran left-winger said he sees no opportunity for any satisfaction to gain a foothold in the Jets locker-room now that the team found a way into the playoffs last spring.

"It’s pretty tough to be satisfied with losing four straight in the playoffs," Ladd said, referencing the sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks last April. "I think that’s first and foremost. The biggest disappointment we had after the playoffs and after having time to think about it, was that we thought we could do some damage, that we had a team that could go deep into the playoffs.

"I don’t think there’s any satisfaction in terms of what we did. Yes, it was nice to make the playoffs but the ultimate goal is competing for Stanley Cups and now we can kind of look back and say that was the first step, to make the playoffs. But great organizations, that’s what their standard is every year, giving themselves a chance to win.

"I think with the group we have, a lot of character guys in that room and no one that’s really satisfied, that’s what gets everybody excited, that we know what we have and the kind of people we have and we’re excited for the opportunity we have with that group."

The Jets will almost certainly see some key changes this fall. It appears today as if the organization is going to rely on young players to fill some holes, particularly at forward.

What Ladd said about the team’s youth movement isn’t much changed from when The Hockey News declared last winter that the Jets had the best prospect list in the league and would win the Stanley Cup in 2019.

When the issue came out, Ladd said he didn’t care much, that he was worried about winning now.

"As a guy on the team, you’re excited when you’re able to draft really good young talented kids," Ladd said. "We understand (GM Kevin Cheveldayoff’s) done a great job. We see these kids at camp and know the type of skill they have and people they are

"As a guy on the team, you’re definitely excited about those guys coming up and helping out but we also love the team we have, the players we have and we feel we have the guys in that room capable of winning hockey games and starting to compete for championships."

One addition the team seems to be counting on in order to get better is Alex Burmistrov, who returns after spending two years in Russia’s KHL.

"We’re excited to have him back," Ladd said. "It was his choice to go back to Russia. I think a lot of people forget how young (23) he really is still. He probably played in the NHL a little too early and was thrust into the spotlight.

"I think everyone in that room enjoyed him when he was here and bottom line, any way we can better we’re all ears and welcoming to any idea. Most guys will be excited to have Burmi back in the mix and we think he’ll help us win some hockey games."