Is Andrew Ladd A Lame Duck Or A Wounded Duck?

What’s going on with Winnipeg Jets Captain Andrew Ladd? – 

Captains are the leader of a team.  Some are boisterous, intimidating, and in your face while some are “lead by example” types.  Jonathan Toews, l’m looking at you.  Some are like Winnipeg Jets captain Andrew Ladd.

Judging a captain is hard for fans because we aren’t in the room and can’t see what makes a player a leader.  There is no doubt no matter the type of captain, you are you have to be special.  Nobody can deny that.  We have all heard the quotes when it comes to leadership, “He just goes out there and does his job every night and leads by example” or “if things aren’t going well he has no problem taking a guy aside a talking to him”.  Those are the types of things we as fans use to judge the player because that’s all we have to go on.  Their job description is told to fans by their teammates and their coaches based on their measuring stick and their standards.

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Andrew Ladd is a very good hockey player.  He has a nose for the net to be sure. He often scores at critical times.  Ladd is also often mistake prone and sometimes next to invisible.  When he is good, he is scoring and when he is bad, he is turning pucks over and taking bad penalties.

It would be hard to imagine a hockey player that is supposed to be gritty that loses puck battles as often as he does.  He turns over the puck when he plays the puck at either blue line.  He has a terrible time there and usually multiple times a game.  This has always been an issue.  When he struggles, we see too many offensive zone penalties as well.  Ladd was inconsistent during the Jets 2.0 first three years back in Winnipeg just like the club as a whole.  In year four however, Ladd cleaned up his game in those two areas and the team made their first playoff appearance.  Coincidence?  Do the Winnipeg Jets go as Andrew Ladd goes or does Andrew Ladd go as his team does?

When this team struggles Blake Wheeler is the one leading the charge.  He’s flying. He is all over the ice. He steps up.  He is moving, hitting and shooting. He is obviously a “lead by example” player and it seems he’s a raise your voice (throw a track suit in shower) type leader as well.  He seems to be a true leader. When we hear Paul Maurice talk about leadership, he’s almost exclusively using­ Wheeler’s name when he speaks of it.  This is Blake Wheeler’s team.  He is in charge.  He and Buff led the Kane shake up!  Where was 16?  

Is it a coincidence that Blake Wheeler does more post-game scrums with the media than the actual captain?  Sure, Wheeler wears an “A” but he’s in front of the microphone way, way more than Andrew Ladd.  Very strange.

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Paul Maurice rarely cites Ladd as the one who did “such and such”.  He may say he is a warrior type but rarely leader.  The one example that comes to mind of Ladd being a leader was before the first season.  He told the club that better lunches were required in the locker room.  There has to be a better example than that, doesn’t there?  Like I said, we can only judge by what we are told and we haven’t been told a lot about exactly what Ladd does.

Now perhaps this isn’t the case.  Maybe there are a lot of reasons Andrew Ladd is the boss in the room.  Take away any previous opinion in this article and just think about this season alone.  “Lame duck” coaches are an absolute no-no for pro teams.  Even if a guy is only doing a so-so job, teams often re-sign their coach so he appears to have a job the next year.  It would be really hard for a coach to stand up in front of his guys and tell them to think about building, growing and developing when everyone knows the coach won’t be there to see it through, so they may tune him out.  

Have you ever put in your two weeks notice?  Does your work ethic go down just a bit knowing you have something new on the horizon?  Sure it does, maybe a little or maybe a bunch, either way it changes.  Why would an athlete be any different?   Not having a contract could be the biggest distraction of all, especially being the captain.  Is it too simplistic to think that these guys are professionals and they can put it aside when we are reminded by the athletes and their organizations that it can be a distraction?  If these things are true it would be hard to fault him for his performance.

What about Andrew Ladd’s health?  We know he played hurt a lot of the year last season.  We remember that he was not 100 percent in camp.  Is he still hurt? You have to wonder if the seeming lack of spark is physical.

One other point, Andrew Ladd has played for three NHL clubs.  It may be nothing but it seems odd that a player of his caliber would be traded and/or not resigned by two hockey clubs.  If Ladd is the leader he is supposed to be, the Carolina Hurricanes and the Chicago Blackhawks would have done everything in their power to keep him.

Although we have seen some improvement recently, is it possible the .500 record is reflection of the captain’s play?  Sometimes he’s there to play and sometimes he’s not.  Reflective play has happened before for better and worse going on four plus seasons.

You’ve heard of lame duck coaches, is it possible we have a lame duck captain? I think so.

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Comments

  1. Derek Curtis says

    Ladd was pretty new to the league during his time with the Hurricanes cup run. He was behind some pretty good leaders there. Brind’Amour, Recchi, Staal.

    When he went to Chicago it was mid season and again the leaders of the team were already established.

    Given the other leaders a head of him in the pecking order, I still think your point is interesting. If he stood out more, would they have kept him? Also, both teams were committing money to others a head of him, Toews, Kane, Staal, Ward.. ect. I wonder what kind of conversations may or may not have taken place regarding him staying?

    • Chris Mackling says

      Thanks for your input Derek. I know there are lots of moving parts to him leaving both situations. I still find it hard to believe he so valuable to the Jets if he, for lack of better terms, wasn’t wanted in those two cities. Again, lots of circumstance but makes you wonder.

  2. Todd Leroux says

    Watched the Rangers game. Little and Wheeler seemed to be the on-ice leaders. If that is the case regularly, then I wonder if Ladd is a better asset (to be traded) than a long-term player?

    Lame Duck? Wounded Duck? How about an Anaheim Duck! (just kidding)

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