DALLAS -- Andrew Ladd came to American Airlines Center on Thursday as captain of the Winnipeg Jets. He left as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Prior to the game against the Dallas Stars, Ladd was traded to Chicago, where he was part of a Stanley Cup championship team in 2010, along with defenseman Jay Harrison and forward Matt Fraser. Winnipeg received forward Marko Dano, a first-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Ladd learned the trade had been finalized about 45 minutes before the game, and he went into the locker room to tell his teammates.
"I spoke with Andrew, told him about the trade, and then he got to spend some time with the players, which was good," Jets coach Paul Maurice said. "We didn't try to rush him out of the room to get the guys to focus solely on the game. He's been here too long, meant too much, friendships were too strong."
Maurice said he was proud of how the Jets responded in a 6-3 win as a way to honor Ladd.
"Especially in a Canadian city, that 'C' means something. There's a huge responsibility that goes with it, being the face of the franchise and dealing with the media," Maurice said. "This year he's handled it as well as a man could have. Came to the room every day and when he was struggling with his game, he wasn't upset about the situation he was in. He accepted his game wasn't where he wanted it to be and right to the handshakes and the hugs on the way out the door, just a fine, fine gentleman."
Ladd, a 30-year-old who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, had 34 points (17 assists) in 59 games this season.
"It is a decision that we didn't take lightly and certainly we as an organization can't thank Andrew enough for what he's done and how he's handled himself," Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said during the first intermission. "You don't just simply replace your captain, but again, I think that this group here will continue to forge ahead and work hard and other leaders will emerge."
Cheveldayoff said there have not been any discussions about who will become Jets captain with Ladd's departure. Their relationship dates to Ladd's previous time in Chicago, where Cheveldayoff was an assistant general manager prior to being hired by the Jets in June 2011.
"He's a special person certainly from my standpoint," Cheveldayoff said. "I think the thing that I'll remember most is the opportunity to give him a hug the night we clinched an opportunity to go to the playoffs [in 2015] and just know how special it was for that group of guys and special for the development of this organization."
Dano, 21, had one goal and one assist in 13 games with the Blackhawks and has spent much of this season with Rockford of the American Hockey League, where he had 23 points (19 assists) in 34 games. The No. 27 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft will join the Jets in advance of their game Saturday at the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"He competes hard, he's a young player that fits the direction that we want to go. He goes to the hard areas, he can play up and down the lineup," Cheveldayoff said. "He'll compete. He's excited about being a part of our organization and getting a chance to play. Getting the first-round pick was a key component of the trade as well."
Cheveldayoff wouldn't say if the Jets will make additional moves prior to the NHL Trade Deadline of 3 p.m. ET Monday.
"I think a deal like this one here certainly might do some things for marketplace as far as setting some other things in motion maybe," Cheveldayoff said. "My staff will come in to Winnipeg after the Pittsburgh game and we'll look at the different options that may present themselves and we'll take a look at anything we can to continue to push this organization forward."
The Jets players couldn't help but feel conflicted about the trade. On one hand, they were happy to see Ladd join a contender but were sad to see such a popular figure in the room heading elsewhere.
"He's a guy that's a great person, great player, but most importantly he's a great friend, not just to me but to everyone here," forward Chris Thorburn said. "He's very approachable for a guy that's had so much success throughout his career. He left a lot of good things behind, a lot of good qualities that we can learn from. We just wish him luck."