November 18, 2019

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Plenty of questions, few answers

Players, staff from Thrashers await word from new owners

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/6/2011 (3091 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/6/2011 (3091 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Here's the one certainty Andrew Ladd knows is coming up on his summer schedule: He's getting married in mid-July in Las Vegas.

As for how the rest of his off-season will unfold, well...

Mark Humphrey / the associated press archives
The one certainty for Andrew Ladd (16) is that he is getting hitched in Las Vegas in July.

CP

Mark Humphrey / the associated press archives The one certainty for Andrew Ladd (16) is that he is getting hitched in Las Vegas in July.

The captain of Winnipeg's 'new' NHL hockey team is a restricted free agent seeking a new deal. He is a man soon to be scouting out new digs in his new hockey home. And like the rest of his teammates relocating from Atlanta to the Manitoba capital, he's got a gazillion other questions begging for answers, too.

"There's so much for guys to do," began Ladd. "The guys who have kids... school-wise there's that question... moving all their stuff and finding places to live... But now we at least have a little direction in where we're going and we can start planning.

"All I know is I've got a wedding in July so most of that month is shot for me."

Ladd said he and his teammates — long kept in the dark while the sale of the Thrashers to True North Sports & Entertainment was hammered out — hope to hear soon from their new bosses. The players did receive a mass text from Thrashers assistant GM Larry Simmons on Tuesday saying the hockey operations staff would contact them soon with more news.

Funny thing is, that staff doesn't exactly have its situation resolved yet, either. GM Rick Dudley and the team's scouts are at the NHL Draft Combine in Toronto, proceeding with the business of getting ready for the annual talent selection later this month in St. Paul, Minn., all the while hoping they all still have gigs when the smoke clears from the Thrashers-True North transaction.

True North boss Mark Chipman and GM Craig Heisinger do hope to provide some answers to the current hockey operations staff today. Both men are flying to Toronto and the combine for face-to-face meetings and to get caught up on preparations for the June 24-25 draft.

"We have to be here at the combine," Dudley told the National Post. "We have people who we have to obviously let know what they're doing. So for us, we have to keep on going.

"The staff has been — since everyone came up — has been great. Scouting is an arduous task at any time, regardless of what's happening with the franchise. So they have stayed focused on the task and I think that's all you can do."

Asked if he felt he would be making the team's first pick, seventh overall, at the draft, Dudley said: "I would think so."

But while many in the organization await their fate, the players seem ecstatic to at least have a resolution on the franchise relocation. Yes, one chapter of this soap opera ends and another starts.

"All the guys have been texting each other and our captain (Ladd) sent out a mass text to everyone trying to keep us up to date with what was going on," said centre Tim Stapleton from his off-season home in Chicago.

"I think everyone's excited, but there is a lot of stress, too, right now. It's part of the business, but once we get there it will be crazy. And that's good. Every person I talked to who played there or played against the Jets... I honestly haven't heard one bad thing. You hear, 'Oh, it's so cold.' But we're there for our jobs. I don't worry about that other stuff. Everyone says you're part of the community and everyone will know who you are. That's pretty cool. I have no idea what it's going to be like, but I've heard stories and I know there's a lot of excitement in the air right now. That's the main thing why I'm so excited. I wish the season would start tomorrow."

One other aspect to the relocation will be intriguing, insists Ladd. He's been traded before, but this time he and his teammates will make the move en masse. Questions and all, that helps make the uncertainty of moving a little less disconcerting.

"We've got a really fun group of guys," said Ladd. "Having everybody go together... it's not like you're traded and everything's new. We're a close group that is really excited about going to a city that is crazy about hockey. It should be a lot of fun.

"My experience in Winnipeg was playing a couple exhibition games for the world juniors in 2005 before we headed to North Dakota. I loved it. The atmosphere in the building for those games was crazy... the fans were so loud and excited we were playing there, That's something I'll never forget.

"That's one of the first things I thought about when we heard we were going there. A lot of guys don't know what they're getting into, but I think they'll be surprised by the people and how passionate they are about their hockey."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca

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