Tuesday night at The KeyBank Center, the Buffalo Sabres hosted You Can Play night. During pregame warmups, Sabres players rocked rainbow-colored pride tape on their sticks and rainbow-colored name plates on their jerseys to show support to the LGBTQ community.
The visiting Sharks were not a planned part of the festivities, but former Capitals forward Joel Ward rocked some pride tape anyways.
Two summers ago, former fan-favorite Joel Ward signed a three-year, $9.825 million contract with the San Jose Sharks after the Capitals, unable to meet the steep demands of the veteran forward, inked Justin Williams.
Fast forward to today and things are not going so well for The Big Cheese in California. According to NBC Sports, Ward will be a healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames tonight. This is the second time in three games that the 36-year old has sat.
Joel Ward just scored another clutch playoff goal. Down 2-1 in the third period and facing a 3-0 series deficit, the Sharks received a four minute power play after Joe Thornton got high-sticked by Nick Bonino.
The Sharked almost frittered the opportunity away before The Big Cheese skated into the Penguins’ zone and fired a slap shot past Matt Murray seven hole.
It was Ward’s seventh goal of the postseason.
Capitals’ forwards Eric Fehr and Joel Ward watched helplessly as the Rangers’ Derek Stepan sent a puck flying past Braden Holtby in Game Seven of the second round last year. Both wanted to win a Stanley Cup with Washington. But as the Capitals blew a three-games-to-one series lead, Stepan’s overtime tally became their final play with the team.
If the offseason, the Capitals acquired Justin Williams and TJ Oshie, letting Ward and Fehr walk. Ward, going to the Sharks, and Fehr, going to the Penguins, signed three-year deals worth $9,825,000 and $6,000,000 respectively. Now, they will face each other in the Stanley Cup Final, which begins Monday night in Pittsburgh.
“Fehrsie and I were good buddies when we played together,” Ward said Sunday. “It just kind of happened and we parted ways. I went left and he went right. And here we are.”
Ex-Capitals teammates Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer met in this year’s Western Conference Finals with their new teams, the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, respectively. Ward, clutch af as always, got the best of the matchup with four big goals in Games Five and Six.
In the handshake line after the Shark’s series victory, Ward and Brouwer shared a tender moment.
Nine days ago, Capitals General Manager Brian MacLellan lamented the loss of Joel Ward during his season-ending press conference.
“I mean, you know, we miss Ward. Joel Ward — he’s the kind of guy we needed in the playoffs,” MacLellan said. “You know, you make changes, and he’s a guy that we wanted back and we didn’t get back. We missed that skill set.”
Wednesday night, the Big Cheese punched his ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals with his new team, the San Jose Sharks. And he was clutch af.
Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward are facing off against each in the Western Conference Finals. The members of the Caps’ 2014-15 roster are vying for an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup with their brand new teams, the St. Louis Blues and San Jose Sharks. The two friends recently described the experience as “weird” to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.
Tonight both players scored in Game Five in ridiculously similar fashion.
Tuesday, ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun published a feature on former Capitals Troy Brouwer and Joel Ward. Both players were a part of the Washington team that lost to the New York Rangers in Game Seven last season, and both players departed in the offseason. Brouwer was traded to the St. Louis Blues for TJ Oshie. Ward signed with the San Jose Sharks after the Capitals inked Justin Williams to a two-year deal.
Earlier this week, Ward and Brouwer addressed their former team’s flame-out in the second round.
I want to point you at a story that is only nominally about hockey. It’s the story of Malik Johnson, powerfully written for The Tennesseean by Jessica Bliss. Malik is a troubled teen, a classic but tragically common tale, or he at least he would have been if not for the intervention of one of our favorites, Joel Ward.
Through Big Brothers Big Sisters, Ward first connected with Johnson, then twelve years old, six years ago. Ward and phalanx of others in the Nashville Predators organization gave Johnson support and companionship when he needed it most. When Ward left Nashville, his bond with Johnson didn’t end. “You just can’t pick up and leave somebody behind like that,” Ward tells the Tennessean.
Give the story a read. You’ll be glad you did, and you’ll probably also be glad you got to cheer for Joel Ward for a while.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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