Earlier this summer, the Islanders were able to move on from Andrew Ladd with both sides needing a fresh start.
Dealt to the Arizona Coyotes, Ladd’s tenure with the organization — which will go down as a forgetful one for many after he came in as a big-ticket acquisition as a part of the now memorable, or now not so much — hyped-up free agent class of 2016, finally came to its conclusion. Ladd never lived up to the albatross of a contract he agreed to as inconsistency and constant injuries plagued his entire time with the Isles.
During that time, the team struggled to keep up their winning ways they had established just prior to the veteran forward’s arrival with back-to-back postseason appearances in 2014-15 and 2015-16. But there was something still there, which Ladd pointed out during his appearance on the Dropping The Gloves Podcast yesterday with John Scott. It was that the club had the right personnel in place to have the success they’ve earned the last three years.
Things didn’t go very well my first couple of years there, but you could tell they had the right guys,” Ladd said.
Around that period, the Islanders had seen the progression of several of their veterans — John Tavares, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy — along with the influx of youth — Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech. Yet they still lacked identity as a team to win, which Ladd acknowledged.
“Sometimes they just need a different message, path. That’s when Lou (Lamoriello) and Barry (Trotz) came in.”
Once those two came in, everything changed for the Isles. The team began to win again and a culture had been put in place. The newfound prosperity the Islanders were having surprised many in the hockey world, but no one inside the Isles’ room — Ladd included — were shocked with the turnaround.
“Everyone around was surprised about the success we (that group) had, but no I don’t think anyone in that room was surprised because they knew the people and the character of that room,” he noted.
That character and the players in that room has now led the Islanders to three straight postseason appearances. Ladd though, never got to play a true role in it. And because the Isles were also in a bind this summer because of their salary cap situation, he knew the time had come for him to find a new home.
“I knew it was coming,” Ladd said. “Lou (Lamoriello) was great. One thing about Lou is he’s open and honest about what’s going on. I kind of knew the whole way they were trying to get it done.”
Ladd will now get a chance to re-vitalize his career with another struggling organization in Arizona. As a two-time Cup winner, and being part of several winning teams, he could be a very important piece for them moving forward. He was once seen that way with the Islanders.
His time with the Isles was disappointing and didn’t live up to the expectations, but he noticed quickly the organization were on their way to being good.
He ended up being right.