During the 2019-20 NHL All-Star Game weekend, Joel Ward told Sporting News: “I’m done. I haven’t done an official post.”
He added with a smile, “I know, I’m getting around to it.”
On April 27, he finally got around to it.
“I’m retiring today,” he wrote for The Players’ Tribune. “I know I didn’t play the last two years, but I tried. I did. I wish I could have gone out in a bit of a different way. But, you know, just thinking about it all — all 726 games — I realized something.
“Who am I to wish for any more time? I got what I wanted. I’m one of the lucky ones. Hockey is a beautiful game, and it works in mysterious ways. Some players, they end on a perfect high, some have it taken from them. But me, I kind of thought it was fitting that I went out the way I came in — without anybody really noticing.”
Ward played 726 games in the NHL and potted 133 goals along with 171 assists between the Capitals, Wild, Predators and Sharks. His road to the league wasn’t easy. Ward wound up going to college at the University of Prince Edward Island and after a year with the Houston Aeros (AHL), he signed a contract with the Wild in 2006. He got a cup of coffee with the team, but it wasn’t until 2008-09 that Ward stuck in the NHL, with the Predators.
Ward would score one of the biggest goals in Washington’s history in a Game 7 against the Bruins, the anniversary of which was just two days ago, when he buried the rebound of a Mike Knuble shot past Tim Thomas. He also played in a Stanley Cup Final with San Jose in 2016.
After the announcement, the hockey world took to social media to send well wishes to the stay-at-home dad who, as he told Sporting News, is “hoping to get back in the game and help teach and coach a little bit” and is now — officially — a retired NHLer.
congrats Wardo 🦄
— Carlo Colaiacovo (@CarloColaiacovo) April 27, 2020
Unbelievable player and person! Still try and implement your can’t change it now advice and stop stressing! special family and a huge congrats to a great career bud! One of the best teammates you could hope for and brought everyone young/ old/ married/ single together #specialguy https://t.co/18UVyyFzx1
— Brent Burns (@Burnzie88) April 27, 2020
Congrats to Joel Ward for a great career. Was a pleasure covering him with the #mnwild. Still remember his first NHL point on a Kurtis Foster goal in Toronto like it was yesterday https://t.co/bvu17pKqaC
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) April 27, 2020
Joel Ward announces his retirement. Classy guy who persevered and made it to the NHL on his smarts. I wish Joel nothing but the best in retirement. https://t.co/N36o1ieIUw
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) April 27, 2020
Re retirement announcement by Joel Ward @jrandalward42: All the best, Scarborough! You’ve come a long way since Coach Rick & your roller blading days. You were always the topic of pride during the morning hot stove sessions at the Wexford! https://t.co/sKtVTAFfr6
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) April 27, 2020