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Just Doin' It

by Staff Writer / Winnipeg Jets
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Prior to being acquired by the Atlanta Thrashers in a July 1 trade with Chicago for defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 2011 second-round pick, Ladd was with two teams in five NHL seasons — the Carolina Hurricanes, who drafted him fourth overall in the 2004 NHL Draft, and the Chicago Blackhawks, who traded for him on Feb. 26, 2008. He has won Stanley Cups with both of them —  in 2005-‘06 with Carolina as a rookie and then again last season with the Blackhawks.

The 24-year-old native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia, responded as expected when asked about how Stanley Cups seem to follow him around and if he has a similar run of luck he's brought with him to Atlanta.

"I hope so," he said, with a laugh. "I've had the opportunity to play for two amazing teams with amazing people. I don't know if I'm just lucky to be a part of it, but I definitely learned a lot from both of those situations and I think I can bring a lot of that experience here. 

So far he's brought a little bit of everything. Heading into Thursday night's game against the Blue Jackets, Ladd is tied for the team-lead in scoring with 12 points (Dustin Byfuglien has acquired 12 as well), including a team-leading 8 assists (he, defenseman Toby Enstrom, and center Rich Peverley each have eight helpers). He's tied for the team lead in plus-minus (plus-3), tied for third in goals (4), is third on the team in shots (25) and power-play points (1-4-5) and has the team's only shorthanded goal.

"'Laddie' has done everything that could have been expected from him," said Thrashers Head Coach Craig Ramsay. "What I personally like is his great stick in the offensive zone. He's turned over a lot of pucks, created some offense for himself and for other people as well. On [Niclas] Bergfors' goal [against the New York Rangers on Oct. 27] he was part of the two-on-one, getting somebody's attention, not hanging back but driving to the net. He's been a great player. When you're using a guy to kill penalties and play on the power play and you use him against the top line that's a pretty good effort."

Ladd's effort may be new to the Thrashers but is quite well-known to those who have played with him in the past.

"It's great for a guy like 'Laddie' to step up and be playing as well as he is," said defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, a teammate of Ladd's in Chicago the last three seasons. "He's been around. He has a couple of Cups now, so he knows what he needs to do and how to be a leader. He's been playing well and it's been fun to see. 

"I'm not surprised at all [by Ladd's start]. He's a good player," added defenseman Brent Sopel, also a Blackhawk teammate. "Laddie' works hard every single night, good nights and bad nights. No matter what, he's working hard. He's trying to do his best.

"In Chicago we were deep and he didn't get a lot of recognition, but he's won two Stanley Cups," he added. "He's a great player. He's getting opportunities to play every single night here, be on the top line and contribute and he's just doing that".

Ladd, who scored in a career-best six straight games (Oct.15 through 27) and has three multi-point games, offers little more than a smile and a simple explanation for his success thus far.

"I don't know if I'm surprised. I'm pretty happy with it," he said. "I still think I can play better than I have been. Consistency is a big thing. I need to keep working on that and bringing it every night. But at the same time, I'm obviously happy with what I've done so far and it's been fun playing lots."

 It's been fun for his linemates as well.

"I just find it really easy to play with him," said center Bryan Little, who'd been on a line with Ladd until suffering a concussion in Atlanta's Oct. 29th game against Buffalo. "He's really smart with the puck and he makes nice chip plays. It seems like he always wins those battles and gets the puck out. Along with his size he's got great touch around the net. He can finish, too. Anything he says, I'm going to listen to pretty closely because he's a pretty smart guy."

He wins a lot of battles but I think that everybody has to understand, on this team, we expect you to win battles. We expect you to win corners and come out with pucks. He does that extremely well. - Craig Ramsay

"If something happens bad out there he's calm all the time," added right wing Bergfors. "He stays calm. He always thinks about what he is going to do. He doesn't think about other stuff that might hurt you. You stay calm, play simple."

Ramsay is impressed by Ladd's striving to get better.

"He's a big, strong guy," said Ramsay. "He wins a lot of battles but I think that everybody has to understand, on this team, we expect you to win battles. We expect you to win corners and come out with pucks. He does that extremely well. As a group we want to be the best at it. I think it's great when a player, who is playing as well offensively as Ladd is, understands there's always a little bit more you can do."

Besides staying even-keeled emotionally and working harder physically, about the only scoop Ladd offered was the secret of his scoring streak.

 "I let the trainer pick my stick," he said, breaking into a smile, "I'll probably keep doing that until things go sour. I don't think anyone knows about it, so we have to keep it on the DL."


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