Winger Joel Ward has had a few conversations with Coach Bruce Boudreau about where he might fit in the Capitals’ lineup next season, but he’s not too stressed about where precisely he will spend most of his playing time.
“I’m excited just to be part of the team. Just slot me in wherever and I’ll just get the job done,” Ward told reporters Tuesday. “It’s no secret that I’m not going to go out there and score 50 goals… But I’m definitely going to go out there and play an honest game and work hard.”
Ward, who signed a four-year, $12 million deal on July 1, took something of a circuitous route to the NHL, with stops in he OHL and at the University of PEI, where he earned a B.A. in sociology, before signing as an undrafted free agent with Minnesota in 2006. He played 11 games with the Wild in 2006-07 but didn’t crack a roster as an NHL regular until the 2008-09 season with the Nashville Predators.
Ward, 30, credited his workmanlike attitude to his mother and his ability to establish himself in the NHL to Kevin Constantine, who was his coach with the AHL’s Houston Aeros in 2007-08.
“I grew up pretty humble over the years,” Ward said. “With a single parent, my mother, taking care of me and my two older brothers, it kind of grounded me, but I still had the dream of playing in the National Hockey League.
“I think I learned a lot more when I was in Houston, my last year with Kevin Constantine, who taught me how to play the game properly and what it takes to play at the National Hockey League at a full-time level,” Ward said. “He kind of sat me down and broke down hockey, not just how to play it or watch it on TV but properly how to watch hockey. It was a learning curve for me, something I’m very thankful for and it kind of got me a job in Nashville at the time and here I am today.”
--Mattias Sjogren went to the dentist Tuesday morning after having a tooth knocked out on Monday. While he missed his group’s scheduled session, Sjogren was back on the ice in the afternoon with Group A upon returning from the appointment no worse for wear.