Joel Randal Ward (born December 2, 1980) is a Canadian professional ice hockey right winger who is currently an unrestricted free agent. He most recently played for the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League (NHL). He has previously played for the Nashville Predators, Minnesota Wild and Washington Capitals.
Ward with the San Jose Sharks in 2016
December 2, 1980|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Height||6 ft 1 in (185 cm)|
|Weight||225 lb (102 kg; 16 st 1 lb)|
San Jose Sharks
Ward was born in North York, Ontario, to Cecilia, who worked as a nurse, and the late Randal Ward, who worked as an auto-mechanic. Both of his parents immigranted to Canada from Barbados. Ward also has two older brothers who played hockey in their youth.
Undrafted, Ward played in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with the Owen Sound Platers. After completing his four-year junior career and his final year of eligibility with the Platers in 2000–01, Ward linked up with lower tier professional team the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the West Coast Hockey League to end the season. An unsigned free agent to start the 2001–02 season, Ward attended the Detroit Red Wings' training camp on a try-out basis, but was ultimately recruited and played collegiately for the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers of the CIS. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from UPEI in 2006.
Awarded Rookie of the Year and the Panthers' three-time MVP while earning a degree in sociology in his four-year collegiate career, Ward was invited to the Minnesota Wild's training camp in 2006. In his first full professional season, he was assigned to the Wild's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Houston Aeros, signing his first professional contract for the entirety of the 2005–06 season.
After impressing Wild management with his work ethic, Ward earned a two-year contract with Minnesota on September 27, 2006. He debuted in 11 NHL games with the Wild during the 2006–07 season, but spent his time primarily with the Aeros, developing into a responsible, two-way player and improving his points totals in each of his three years.
On July 15, 2008, Ward signed as a free agent to a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators. He made the opening night roster out of training camp for the 2008–09 season and scored his first NHL goal in his first game as a Predator against the St. Louis Blues on October 10, 2008.
In 2008–09, his first full NHL season, he scored 17 goals in 79 games, and his reliability as a defensive forward and success as a utility scoring forward earned him a two-year contract extension on July 1, 2009.
Ward became an unrestricted free agent after the 2010–11 season and subsequently signed a four-year, $12 million contract with the Washington Capitals on July 1, 2011. On April 25, 2012, Ward scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 7 of the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Boston Bruins, advancing Washington to the Eastern Conference Semi-finals.
Ward's fortune would not continue into Washington's series with the New York Rangers. With the series tied at two games apiece, Ward took a high-sticking double minor penalty on Carl Hagelin with 22 seconds remaining in the third period of Game 5, with Washington leading 2–1. Rangers forward Brad Richards tied the game with under ten seconds remaining, and defenceman Marc Staal scored in overtime with the Rangers still on the powerplay as a result of Ward's penalty; the Rangers took a 3–2 series lead. After the Capitals exit at the hands of the Rangers, he required surgery for a sports hernia.
As the Sharks prepared to play in the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Ward spoke to ESPN, stating that the NHL's first player of colour, retired fellow right winger Willie O'Ree, should have his player number 22 retired by the NHL league-wide, just as Jackie Robinson, the first player of colour in Major League Baseball has been honoured—and whom O'Ree had met in person in his own younger years—by having his own player number 42 retired league-wide.
Ward left the Sharks' organization after three seasons. On September 14, 2018, Ward agreed to attend the Montreal Canadiens' training camp on a professional tryout. However, the Canadiens released Ward from his tryout on September 25.
|1997–98||Owen Sound Platers||OHL||47||8||4||12||14||11||1||1||2||5|
|1998–99||Owen Sound Platers||OHL||58||19||16||35||23||16||2||4||6||0|
|1999–00||Owen Sound Platers||OHL||63||23||20||43||51||—||—||—||—||—|
|2000–01||Owen Sound Attack||OHL||67||26||36||62||45||5||2||4||6||4|
|2000–01||Long Beach Ice Dogs||WCHL||—||—||—||—||—||8||0||0||0||0|
|2001–02||U. of Prince Edward Island||CIS||22||13||14||27||16||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002–03||U. of Prince Edward Island||CIS||19||11||15||26||24||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||U. of Prince Edward Island||CIS||27||14||24||38||42||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004–05||U. of Prince Edward Island||CIS||28||16||28||44||42||—||—||—||—||—|
|2015–16||San Jose Sharks||NHL||79||21||22||43||28||24||7||6||13||16|
|2016–17||San Jose Sharks||NHL||78||10||19||29||30||6||1||3||4||4|
|2017–18||San Jose Sharks||NHL||52||5||7||12||20||—||—||—||—||—|
Joel Ward has an idea for the National Hockey League to honor the history and growing impact of black players in the sport: Retire the number 22 Willie O’Ree wore with the Boston Bruins when he became the league’s first black player in 1958."I definitely think Willie should be recognized for sure," Ward told ESPN Sunday, the media day before his San Jose Sharks face the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. "It’s a no-brainer. Without Willie, it would be tough for me to be sitting here today. I definitely think Willie should be a big part of this."