Perhaps the most impressive thing about Joel Ward is his life motto.
Undrafted, college graduate, AHL veteran, the Capitals’ newly signed Ward knows the non-glamorous side to being a professional athlete. He told OFB that being a leader sometimes means stepping out of a personal comfort zone in order to get someone to listen. But then comes his life motto—”Never have a bad day”—and you understand what makes him stand out in a sports culture of NFL lockouts and hour-long sporting events dedicated to one player’s decision to change teams.
Ward told OFB he’s excited about the makeup of his new team and says it will be fun to watch guys like Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, and Alexander Semin as teammates. And the Capitals fanbase has already made an impression on him from his time in an opposing team’s jersey. Ward described the Capitals’ fan support as unbelievable, gave a verbal stick tap to the sea of red jerseys , and talked about how he could see the passion among Capitals faithful.
He may need that fan support for the Capitals’ first opponent of the preseason – ironically his old team, the Nashville Predators.
“It’ll definitely be a weird one, for sure,” Ward said of facing his former team, where he spent three of his four NHL seasons thus far. “Nashville’s what I knew.”
He said, however, he’s definitely excited about being a part of D.C. He’s had to do most of the initial area exploring sans teammates’ support, however, since he hasn’t really talked much yet since the trade to most of the current Capitals and his playing career hasn’t crossed paths previously with many on the roster, either.
As for the franchise itself, Ward does remember some old time Caps hockey—including the marathon game back with Washington goalie Bob Mason in net. In his own playing career, Ward said he enjoys the playoff atmosphere, where games are tighter and fans are rowdier, and recalled every aspiring NHL player’s dream as a kid of scoring the big goal in a big game. His numbers showcase that, too. In 12 playoff games last year, Ward racked up 13 points. In his six-game debut NHL playoff series the year before, he scored 4 points.
Ward says he’s ready to help Washington out; he was struck by the character it took for the Capitals to climb from the 8-game losing slump showcased in HBO’s 24/7 in December back into a winning mode, one that eventually saw the team finish with the 1st seed in the Eastern Conference.
And he enjoys the pressure of being a shut-down forward in the league, should Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau choose to use him as such.
“I just like the pressure of being out there every day against the top line,” Ward said.
But, as a guy who’s strong enough to make every day a good one, he’s ready to do whatever it takes to help the Caps win.