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Sports Hernia Recovery Could Be Hurting Andrew Ladd

The Jets captain has struggled mightily this season. Could it be due to the lingering effects of the sports hernia surgery he underwent in the offseason? How have other star players looked after the procedure?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Ladd hasn't been the same this year. He hasn't been one of the Jets best players, night in and night out. His poor play is coming at the worst of times for him and for Jets management. With the trade deadline just over a month away, the pending UFA remains unsigned. For a player that is trying to earn a new contract, you'd expect to see a lot more than what Andrew Ladd has brought to the table.

While Ladd is asking for a long-term extension (reportedly around 6 years) in contract negotiations, his performance isn't pleading his case very well. Yes, on the last few scoresheets Ladd has put a Band-Aid over his disappointing season. He has 5 assists in his last 6 contests, but has been held without a goal for the last 11 games. It's not like Ladd hasn't been the same for just spurts of this season. Ladd hasn't been himself for a little while, dating back to the end of last season.

Last year in the Jets first round playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks, Ladd was widely criticized for his performance. He looked sluggish and banged up, and was practically invisible most of the games.

Something was evidently not right with the Jets captain. It was revealed after the series that Ladd had suffered a sports hernia and was playing through it during the last part of the season. Since around that point, Ladd's production has taken a significant drop off. Could his struggles be due to lingering effects from the sports hernia surgery he's recovering from?

What is a sports hernia?

"A sports hernia is a painful, soft tissue injury that occurs in the groin area. It most often occurs during sports that require sudden changes of direction or intense twisting movements." - American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

According to a study done by the American Journal of Sports Medicine, players who have played over 7 full seasons (Ladd has 11 in the NHL under his belt) return from sports hernia injuries with a significant decrease in their overall performance levels.

Ladd is sitting at 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists) 45 games into the year. This puts him on pace for 49 points, which would be his lowest point total (not including the lockout year) in six seasons. Those kind of numbers don't warrant a high salary attached to a long-term extension.

Another example, Ladd's junior teammate Ryan Getzlaf, also had a sports hernia at the end of last season. He did not need surgery, but the effects of the injury are taking a huge toll on his production as well. Getzlaf is a surefire NHL superstar and has been amongst the best in the league over the last couple of years. He has 3 goals so far this season. He's on pace for under 10.

Both Ladd and Getzlaf have played well over 7 seasons in the NHL, and both are fitting into the criteria of veteran players having production drop-offs after suffering a sports hernia.

Ladd could be struggling due to the gruelling recovery a sports hernia creates. Maybe Ladd can bounce back next year and redeem himself? But how?

Would Ladd Accept A Contract Year Do-Over?

Ladd's sports hernia recovery may or may not be the reason for his subpar contract year. Would he take a one-year deal and bet on himself, to try and prove he's worth more when the 2016-2017 season is completed? Though downgrading to a bridge contract is not very desirable for someone like Andrew Ladd, who is 30 years old and ready to cash in on his next big contract, it could be a risk well taken.

If Ladd is set on staying with the Jets long-term, as he has stated previously multiple times, this might be the best move for both sides. It is a risk because if Ladd's play continues to decrease, his last big contract could be considerably less than what he could earn this season from other teams on the open market.

For Ladd, this would be the best move because he can prove that he is better than what he has produced this year, and try to shake off the lingering effects of a sports hernia in the process. For the Jets, this would be a wise move to dig them out of the time crunch they have put themselves in. They have waited far too long figuring out what to do with Andrew Ladd and signing him to a one-year deal would give them more time, both for Ladd to find his game and to determine whether to retain or trade their captain.

The odds are against Ladd to snap out of his post-surgery slump. Stats say that he won't be the same and will have a large decline in production. This all comes at the worst possible time for him and for the Jets brass. 

Big decisions loom in Winnipeg.