For better or worse, Joel Ward’s game winner that sent the Caps to the second-round of the playoffs is now linked to the racial mess some Internet yahoos sent in his direction after the game.
Which is why Ward’s first message on Twitter after his goal included both a reference to rocking the red, and a reference to Jackie Robinson, the man whose jersey number he wears.
And which is why WTOP couldn’t help but ask Ward about the post-game reaction during an appearance Friday morning.
“You know, the words, they don’t hurt me at all,” Ward told the station. “I’m doing ok. I just want the team to win. That’s the main focus for me. You can’t let somebody make a few comments and take away from what we just accomplished, and it was a big victory. I’m just more upset about the fact that it took away a lot of accolades for guys like Braden Holtby, who played all those games and worked so hard. And now, the fact that people want to turn it into a couple comments a few fans made about myself is just terrible.”
“I mean, there was a lot of support from a lot of people, which was great to see,” Ward said. “Obviously you can’t control everybody. It is what it is. People are gonna make their comments, and say what they want to say, but you can’t control all that.”
Ward also told the station that his regularly scheduled Friday afternoon coaching stint at the Fort DuPont ice rink was being rescheduled this week, due to an unforeseen trip to New York. And he said he would not be agitating for more ice time in the next series.
“We’re gonna stick with the plan, go with what works, keep it simple, and just keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Ward said. “And whenever I get called upon, just go out there and work hard and try to create something for my linemates.”
As for the goal itself? Has Ward been replaying it in his mind?
“Not really,” he said. “I mean, I was more excited when the guys were coming off the bench. I was kind of replaying that. That was actually a pretty big thrill for me. I know the puck was there, it just happened so fast. Once I realized all the guys were coming off the bench, that’s when it really hit me....I mean, when I saw the puck just sitting there, my eyes just popped up like a Christmas tree, I just couldn’t believe it. I don’t even know what happened next. It was just crazy.”
The WTOP hosts seemed impressed enough. One referred to Ward as “The best fourth liner in the NHL and our hero.”