Gwinnett Gladiators forward Joey Haddad (27), who scored four big goals in last year’s playoffs and had 33 points in 44 regular-season games, has re-signed with the team. (Photo: Amanda Hertel)
DULUTH — The Gwinnett Gladiators re-signed one of their most effective offensive weapons today, getting Joey Haddad back for the 2013-14 season.
Haddad, despite missing a large chunk of last year with a shoulder injury, had 33 points in 44 games. He also, once again, scored several big goals during the team’s playoff run.
The 24-year-old gave the Gladiators 1-0 leads in both Game 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against Cincinnati. It wasn’t enough for a Gwinnett team playing only the first two games of the series at home because of arena availability issues though and the season ended in the second round.
But there’s no doubt about Haddad’s clutch play.
“Joe has always been able to do that,” head coach Rick Emmett said. “He has the ability to electrify with his size. Those are the things we’ll expect to see with a little more consistency, but he can score a goal carrying two guys on his back. Which of course leaves room for other guys on the ice as well.”
Haddad, who split the 2011-12 season between Gwinnett and two AHL teams, was injured in early November and missed roughly 10 weeks.
“In my sixth game, I bruised my shoulder and sat the next three games,” Haddad said. “My third game back, that’s when I really banged up my shoulder.”
Haddad knew it was going to be a lengthy recovery process, but was able to wait until he really felt healed to come back in January. The Sydney, Nova Scotia, native finished fourth on the team in goals and had at least one point in 16 of 24 games in the home stretch from February to March.
“An injury like that takes a lot of time,” Haddad said. “You’ve got to take the proper steps. During the last two or three weeks, there were feelings like maybe I could play despite some lingering pain and soreness.
“But we waited until it felt really good and it showed its effectiveness. I never had to sit out another game because of a shoulder injury.”
His offseason training also was a reflection of what he went through. Working with his longtime trainer at home, Haddad spent a lot of time on workouts geared toward injury prevention.
“I don’t want to have that happen again,” he said.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound power forward enters his fifth pro season having played 64 games in the AHL and he’s eager to get back to that level. Last year, between the NHL lockout and his injury, Haddad didn’t get up to the AHL for the first time in his career.
But if that doesn’t happen, Haddad knew Gwinnett was where he wanted to play.
“It was an easy decision,” he said. “I know how the coach and the GM like to run things. I know the staff. I have a lot of friends there. It’s a home away from home, which allows me to be fully comfortable and put my focus wholly on hockey.”
Haddad is the eighth player signed by the Gladiators for the season. The team previously locked up defensemen Devon Krogh and Jonathan Narbonne, as well as forwards Evan Bloodoff, C.J. Lee, Dirk Southern, Jeremie Malouin and Kurtis Bartliff.