Duncan Keith has remained good friends with Andrew Ladd since their first go-around as teammates.
The two have places near each other in British Columbia and train together.
“He’s one of my best friends in hockey,” Keith said late Thursday night.
So Keith is naturally happy to see his best friend as a teammate again after the Blackhawks acquired Ladd from the Winnipeg Jets. The players found out the team traded for Ladd when it was announced on the video board during the first period. For Keith, it was welcome news.
“It’s a huge acquisition for us,” Keith said. “He brings so many things to the table. On top of what he can bring on the ice there are so many things off the ice he’ll bring to our team in the locker room: that leadership and experience. He’s a guy who basically plays any position or any situation. The biggest thing he brings is that hunger to win, and the ability to play in those tough playoff games.”
Whenever Ladd does get here, he’ll start with two familiar teammates: Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, as the Blackhawks may have finally solved their top-line, left-wing issue.
“You know what Andrew Ladd’s intention is coming here,” Toews said. “You know what he wants to accomplish and a lot of the guys do know what type of person and player he is. So that transition will be as easy as possible. We’re looking forward to it.”
Yes, unlike some of the Blackhawks’ recent trade-deadline acquisitions, there will be no adjustment period. At least there shouldn’t be. Ladd spent three previous seasons with the Blackhawks, during which time he got acquainted with Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and eventually Marian Hossa.
“He’s got some real close friends on our team. That can alleviate things quickly, knowing he’s been here, he’s won with this group and is close friends with some of the guys,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “He’ll be welcome with open arms and opportunity’s going to be great. He’s a great addition at this time of the year, for us and for him. The transition should be relatively seamless.”
For Ladd, he’s getting back with teammates who are a few years older, who have honed their games and have learned how to win in the postseason – a couple of times.
“They know how to play the right way,” Ladd said. “Their ability to have such a big impact and big games, they always have big moments at crucial times and that’s what’s made them great. Anyone’s excited to be a part of that again. It’s a treat to watch some of those guys play. You have such a great appreciation for what they do day in, day out, when you play with them each and every day. I’m excited to see them again.”
The Blackhawks are happy to see Ladd again, too. They’ve had a good season thus far; bringing back a familiar player could make it that much better.
“We keep in touch throughout the year, so it’s something we talked about, the potential of that happening,” Keith said of Ladd returning. “We’re all excited to have him.”