Ladd was quoted saying, “It’s a huge honor for the coaching staff to have the confidence in me to lead this team,” Ladd said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do that.”
The Detroit Red Wings brought the strategy in vogue, when they appointed Steve Yzerman captain at the age of 20. Yzerman grew into the job and led the Wings to four Stanley Cups, including one as a team executive.
Yzerman also picked up some impressive hardware, winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP in the Stanley Cup playoffs, as well as the Lester Pearson Trophy and the Lester Patrick and the Frank Selke Trophies.
Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom were also named as alternate captains.
Not surpringly, Ladd and Byfuglien both came from the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks.
The AJC reported that coach Craig Ramsay said Andrew Ladd will be that guy when asked about the team’s leadership. “It’s an enormous responsibility but he’s well respected. He has stepped up his commitment to himself to make sure he’s ready to play every night and his commitment to the team has been so evident. He’s earned that. I didn’t know who to pick at the start of the season and he’s earned that opportunity.”
Ladd becomes the youngest captain in franchise history. He currently leads the team with 18 points. He is tied for first in goals (7) and tied for second in assists (11). He also leads the team’s forwards with an average ice time of 18:50.
During training camp both GM Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsay praised Ladd’s commitment to giving it his all when he is on the ice as well as in the locker room. “He is the most committed a player I’ve seen in a long time.” Ramsay told the AJC.
One of the best things about the Ladd acquisition is that it came in an off-season deal with Chicago for defensive prospect Ivan Vishnevskiy and a second-round draft pick—a move which could turn out to be a steal for the Thrashers.
Ladd has many of the leadership attributes the young Atlanta team is looking for. At 24, he already owns two Stanley Cup championship rings, one with Carolina in 2006 and one last season with Chicago.
“I don’t know if it was a goal to be captain, but it was definitely a goal to be a leader on this team,” Ladd said. “We have a lot of great older guys that have been around that I’m going to be able to lean on throughout the year.”
Nik Antropov and Johnny Oduya were alternate captains since the start of the season. It is unclear whether they did not hold on to their position because both players did not come out of the gate strongly this season. Antropov could not seem to put the puck in the net and Oduya’s plus minus has been one of the worst on the team.
“We were hoping from the start of the year that somebody would step up and say ‘Hey, I’m the guy. I want to be that guy.’” Ramsay said. “When you go out on a 2-on-1, are you the shooter or always the passer? You want to be that guy that makes the big play."
Ladd's appointment clearly signals a change in strategy for the team. Dudley and Ramsay chose the best leader rather than the best player to be the team captain.
Ladd will definitely contribute in different ways than the last Thrashers captain, Ilya Kovalchuk.
Andrew Ladd could prove to be both the best leader and the best producer.