Photo credit: John Tlumacki
The search for the mythical Playoffs Performer led George McPhee to get a little carried away bidding for Joel Ward last summer–and like it always does, Ward’s paycheck led to expectations. When the playoffs rolled around, we were all watching intently to see if Joel Ward would evolve into a Charizard or something.
And you know what? He kind of did.
Cap Hit: $3 M. Joel Ward is signed through 2014-15, and will be UFA on expiration of that contract.
Best Moment: Easy. Scoring the series-winning Game Seven goal in overtime. No matter how else Ward’s season went, no one who saw it will ever forget that goal.
Listen to John Walton’s fantastic call of that goal one more time. You know you want to.
Worst Moment: The low was just as dramatic, though it doesn’t erase Ward’s spot in Caps history. Minutes away from a Game Five win in the second round to take a lead in the series, Ward took a double minor that left the Caps shorthanded for four minutes. The Rangers tied the game, and then won it. Ow.
Things We Said About Joel Ward: “Boy, we can’t wait till the playoffs so we can see Joel Ward!”
First Irrelevant Google Images Result:
There is definitely a soccer player named Joel Ward.
Media Consensus: “Overpaaaaiiiiiiddd.”
Spirit Animal: Shetland pony.
Alternate Universe Superhero Identity: Nick Fury
Backstory Montage: The Washington Post did a great profile on Ward’s road to the NHL that made us like him even more.
Team Role: Though his $3 M payday would seem to indicate a larger role, Ward ended up playing as a bottom-six defensive forward.
Execution of that Role: Expectations aside, Ward played well in that role, eating up tough minutes admirably and seeming to develop chemistry with several lines. Despite his good power play numbers with past teams, Ward got no time on the PP, but he still notched six goals and eighteen points, while maintaining the best on-ice goals-against average on the team.
Postseason Performance: After spending all season debunking the myth of the clutch postseason player, we have to admit that Ward did kinda come through. He didn’t have the spectacular playoffs that he had with Nashville last year, but he scored one big goal at the biggest possible moment.
We won’t talk about that other thing.
Photo credit: Cheryl Nichols
Ward’s beard seems to have grown to some kind of strange point on his cheek. We are okay with that. Six out of ten.
Likeliness to Return: Though that contract is still a pain, Ward is a useful player and GMGM will likely see that Game Seven goal as validation for his decision. Hey, maybe we’ll even see him on the PP next year. Seven out of ten.
Usefulness in a Post-Apocalyptic Setting: Ward never gives up, and is not afraid to work hard when it’s called for. He can stay. Eight out of ten.
Other: Ward’s moment of triumph was unfortunately marred by racist tweets lashing out at him for his series-winning goal. We don’t give extra attention to bile like that, but it’s worth saying one more time: we love Joel Ward more than you could ever possibly hate him.
Overall Year-End Rating: Six Good Sashas