They knew he wore the captain's C with the Atlanta Thrashers last season. And a quick glance at the stats told them he led the team in goals and points.

So that was as good a starting point as any when the new Winnipeg Jets management began discussing where Andrew Ladd fit into their long-term plans.

But it was when the 25-year-old Maple Ridge, B.C., product few into Winnipeg last month -- on his own dime, no less -- to meet with owner Mark Chipman, general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and assistant GM Craig Heisinger to tour the arena and shake some hands that the team's big thinkers became convinced of this:

They absolutely, positively had to get the 25-year-old locked up as soon as possible.

"The thing that was most impressive to me," Cheveldayoff said, "was (after the meeting last month) he went back to his hotel and sent emails and text messages to all the other players on the team, talking about the facility, talking about the friendliness, talking about the ownership, talking about the vision.

"I didn't get a chance to speak to the players until the next day and they all, to a man, said, 'Oh yeah, Laddy already talked to us.'

"Those are the key characteristics you want in your leader."

So when Ladd's new deal was announced Tuesday morning -- five years, $22.5 million -- it was hardly a shocker to those who have been monitoring the early days of the Jets' rebirth. He is not only a key cornerstone going forward, his style of play and personality are a good fit for this town and he's the perfect prototype for the kind of character the organization wants to build around.