April 26, 2012
Call of Canada special for Ladd
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Andrew Ladd is ready to extend his hockey season and excited to wear the Maple Leaf once again.
The Winnipeg Jets captain is off to Zurich, Switzerland on Thursday as the first wave of Team Canada players participating in the 2012 IIHF World Men’s Hockey Championship head over for some pre-tournament action.
“It’s fun to be playing at this time of the year and it’s special because in Canada, hockey brings people together. To have the country (rally) around you is a pretty neat experience,” Ladd said before a workout at MTS IcePlex on Wednesday morning. “It’s a strong tournament, it’s tough to play and the bigger ice gives you different challenges. It’s fun to be in really competitive games and pressure situations.
“We’re going to have a really good team going over there. I had a great time last year, but we lost in the quarter-finals, which sucked. I’m looking forward to doing better than that this year.”
Ladd will be joined on the adventure by Jets teammate Evander Kane and Winnipeg-born Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, who accepted invitations after the Chicago Blackhawks were eliminated by the Phoenix Coyotes.
“The tough part about us getting together really quick is finding roles and finding chemistry with different guys,” said Ladd. “Obviously, the skill is there but you’ve got to find the make-up of the team pretty quick to be successful.”
Ladd is also looking forward to playing for head coach Brent Sutter once again.
Sutter was the bench boss of Canada’s world junior team that claimed a gold medal in Grand Forks, N.D. in 2005 and included the likes of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Dion Phaneuf — all members of this team as well.
“With Brent Sutter coaching, we’re going to have a hard-nosed team and we’re going to play hard,” said Ladd. “There’s a lot of guys going that are familiar with him and have somewhat of a connection. It helps going in there knowing what to expect from him.”
Although there’s no guarantee NHLers will be participating at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Ladd admits the tournament represents a chance to audition for a spot on that roster.
“Hopefully, you can go there and show them what you can do and get somewhat on the radar,” said Ladd, who had 28 goals and 50 points in 82 games with the Jets this season. “Obviously, that’s the ultimate goal for any Canadian kid, to play for the Olympic team and have that chance. That’s probably a good reason there’s a lot of guys eager to go over.”
However, the primary goal is the same as every other time Canada enters an international tournament.
“Going there, you put enough pressure on yourself to win either way,” said Ladd. “At the end of the day, the expectation every year for Canada is to win gold.”
The tournament runs from May 4 to 20 in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, with semifinal and medal-round games being played in Helsinki.
Canada opens the tournament against Slovakia on May 4, while Ladd and Kane will be up against fellow Jet Jim Slater and Team USA on May 5.