VANCOUVER — Andrew Ladd is the only area native on the Islanders’ roster, but he squeezed in his family time elsewhere on Wednesday. Ladd had an array of family and friends on hand in Calgary to receive the “Forever a Hitmen” honor from his former junior club, which raised a banner to the rafters of the Saddledome for Ladd’s two seasons with the Western League team, from 2003-05.
“To have them honor me and to see so many people again, it was a great night,” Ladd said. “I had my whole family there, and to be able to reminisce with my billet family, who were a huge part of my life and my development there for two years, it was incredibly special.”
When his old team contacted Ladd about the honor earlier in the season, Ladd conceded to being a bit surprised. His Hitmen teammate, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, was the first to receive the banner-raising honor earlier this season.
“But I only played two years there. Some guys had four, five years there to make an impact. So it’s not something that even enters your mind,” Ladd said. “That they wanted to do this for me is something I’ll never forget.”
Ladd played the 2003-04 season for Calgary under coach Rich Kromm, who was an Islander for parts of six seasons.
Gionta back in for Isles
With only 12 healthy forwards remaining after Shane Prince went home to have his injured ankle examined, Stephen Gionta jumped back into the lineup in an unusual spot — left wing. Gionta started the game with Anthony Beauvillier and Cal Clutterbuck, with Nikolay Kulemin taking Prince’s spot on the left side of Brock Nelson and Josh Ho-Sang.
Prince joined Alan Quine (upper body) and Casey Cizikas (upper) back on Long Island among depth forwards out for the Islanders.