Ladd injured his shoulder in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks' series-clinching Game 4 win at home against San Jose in the Western Conference Final. He didn't play the rest of that game and didn't practice in the days off before the start of the Stanley Cup Final.
Ladd then missed the first three games against Philadelphia in the Final -- all the while being listed as "day-to-day" by Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. Ladd didn't participate in the morning skates for Games 4 and 5, but played in both of those games plus the Game 6 Cup clincher.
It has since been revealed that Ladd played with a fractured left shoulder plus some torn tissue. He talked about playing with the injury on Saturday at the United Center in the Hawks' season wrap-up session.
"I don't know how tough it was," Ladd said of playing with the injury. "It was sore, but it was frozen. The doctors and our training staff did a good job of getting me back. We tried everything possible. I came back as soon as possible."
He not only returned, but also helped give the Hawks physical presence in front of Flyers goaltenders Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher. Ladd wound up scoring a goal in Game 6 that nearly became the game-winner by redirecting a slap shot from teammate Niklas Hjalmarsson
After winning the Cup once before with Carolina, the thought of not playing in this Final stung. That's why he never let that thought enter his mind.
"I had my moments of frustration, definitely," Ladd said. "I don't know if I had any doubts (about returning). I knew I was determined to get back. We tried pretty much everything. I'd get to the rink at eight in the morning and probably didn't get home until eight at night. We were doing all sorts of things, hyperbaric chamber and stuff like that. I was going to make sure I got back."
Chicago's front office personnel, coaches and trainers could tell.
"He battled through it," general manager Stan Bowman said. "He's a Stanley Cup champion twice over (now), so I could tell he wanted to get out on the ice."
"I know he wouldn't even be thinking about playing (with it) in the regular season -- maybe even the playoffs," Quenneville said. "But he's a competitive guy. I thought he was a huge factor -- his speed and competitiveness and the way he goes to the net. Laddy's one of those guys who doesn't get a lot of attention and fanfare like some of the guys do, but as a coach you have an appreciation for what he brings."
Now comes a shortened off-season after the two-month trek needed to win the Cup -- which means less time to heal. Ladd doesn't know yet whether he'll need surgery because it's still too soon to get a good look at the extent of the damage.
"It's tough because the doctors explained to me (that) there's a tear, too," Ladd said. "Hopefully everything heals up and I just rehab it, and maybe it'll only take a month to get back healthy."
As for his decision not to wear a sling?
"I figured it was just better not to wear one, just to keep it under wraps," he said. "The doctor said if it wasn't too uncomfortable, I could just do it that way. It feels pretty good at night (when celebrating), but in the morning it's a little sore. Obviously, winning helps out a lot with the pain."
That was obvious just by watching the post-game festivities at Wachovia Center, where Ladd hoisted the Cup high over his head.
"I managed to do that with very little pain at that point," he said.
Author: Brian Hedger | NHL.com Correspondent