For a while it looked like Andrew Ladd’s potential last home game as a Winnipeg Jet might produce a Hollywood type ending.
The rousing cheer as he was announced as the starting left winger. Scoring a shorthanded goal that blew the roof off the arena. The chance at a come-from-behind win.
But a shot to tie the game, with the goalie pulled, rang off the iron. And the Dallas Stars made sure there was no win for the “good guy” by defeating the Jets 5-3.
The crowd knew this could be the last time they saw their captain in a Jets jersey, with heavy rumours swirling around his future and Monday’s trade deadline looming. Even Ladd said before the game that the writing appeared to be on the wall. After the loss Ladd said the ovation he received created an odd atmosphere.
“It’s something that you have to get past. It’s kind of weird because nothing is set in stone. You don’t really know what’s going to happen. But it’s always nice to feel appreciated, and I really appreciate the ovation.”
When asked if he was open to resigning with the team after the season in the event he is traded, Ladd explained that it’s too early to start thinking about it.
“I think I’m always open to anything, but that’s farther down the road and I’m not going to cross that road until it happens. It’s hard to think too far ahead. You try to just enjoy playing the game because it’s out of your control, and you deal with it as it comes.”
After the game, head coach Paul Maurice raved about Ladd’s leadership skills.
“He’s been so good like that, playing with a centre in his second year and a winger in his first 40 [games]. The stuff you never get to hear or see is the stuff that happens on the bench, when the other team scores and what he says to those kids. It keeps them engaged the whole game. Those are the things about the man that are important.”
Alexander Burmistrov opened the scoring for the Jets in the second to tie the game 1-1, and after the Stars regained the lead Ladd buried a shorthanded feed from Dustin Byfuglien to tie the game 2-2 heading into the third.
But the team could get nothing going on a 5-on-3 early in the final frame and the Stars scored two goals in under two minutes to grab a 4-2 lead. The Jets made it interesting in the final minutes as Mark Scheifele scored to make it a one goal game.
Just six seconds later Ladd drilled the post from close range, but furious late pressure would be for not as Stars captain Jamie Benn scored his second of the game into an empty net to seal the win.
The Jets are now winless in four tries against the Stars this season, and will try to reverse the trend when the two teams play again Thursday night in Texas.