Andrew Ladd is coming off a career season after being traded to the Thrashers weeks after winning the Stanley Cup in Chicago. He was named team captain and set career highs in goals (29) and points (59).
It will be a busy offseason for Ladd. The restricted free agent will play for Canada in the World Championships and get married in July.
In the next of a series of interviews with Thrashers players following the 2010-11 season, here is some of what Ladd had to say about his playing in Atlanta and his contract status.
Q. What are your overall impressions of your first year in Atlanta?
A. The start was great. The first half we proved that we can play with any team in the league. Throughout the year, I thought our best games were against top teams. We showed we could skate and play with anyone. That was exciting to see.
Obviously its disappointing not making the playoffs and really thinking we had the group here to get in there and do some damage. You have to use that disappointment and frustration as motivation to come back next year and make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Q. The number of close, even one-goal, losses hurt you this season. Is that a matter of learning how to play in those games?
A. I think so. I think sometimes we were trying to do too much. That is something you learn. Sometimes less is more. Sometimes you don’t need to make those plays when you are in a tight game. You have to wait and wait for your chances and when it pops up you have to take advantage of it.
Q. You have been in talks about a new contract for awhile. Will it be easier to get it done now that the season is over?
A. I don’t know. We’ve been working on it for awhile. For me, I want to be here. I’m committed to being a part of this and getting it to where it needs to be. I love the group. I love the city. I want to be here so I’m sure we’ll get something done.
Q. Can Atlanta, a major city with the nice weather and such, be a major selling point for this team?
A. I think so but again the biggest thing is to know that you are coming to a successful team, a team that is headed in the right direction. I don’t think it matters much to anyone, the weather is nice, but at the end of the day winning hockey games is far more important. It takes a toll on you, mentally, losing. As a player, for me, it’s frustrating. It’s a tough year to go through, losing games. It’s not as much fun coming to the rink. When you are winning games, it’s fun coming to the rink. You have an extra kick in your step. That’s the most important thing for guys coming here.
Q. One of the things coach Craig Ramsay has said several times this season is that he likes the players talking on the bench and holding each other accountable. Are you one of those players that will say something there?
A. Yes, I think so. I’m pretty emotional throughout games and sometimes I should probably bite my tongue. But definitely, when you are that emotional and that involved it’s a good thing. There always has to be talk. For the most part, I thought we did a really good job of being positive on the bench. That’s a big part of being a good teammate and creating a good atmosphere.
The series will continue over the next couple of weeks. Coming Wednesday, Bryan Little.