Tracking the Storm

Transition an Easy One for Ward

Friday, 07.24.2009 / 4:15 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Transition an Easy One for Ward
Although the fact that the Hurricanes sought to re-acquire Aaron Ward in a trade was probably enough by itself to ensure that last year’s incident with Scott Walker was in the past, Ward went a step further today.

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“Those are things that happen during the game,’ he said. “It’s water under the bridge and I’m on his team now. I’ll see Scotty Walker when he comes in, shake his hand, tell him how grateful I am to be here, how excited I am to play with him and it will be in the past.

“But I might step on his toes first,” Ward added, showing that he’s still got the sense of humor that made him famous in his first tour of duty.

Ill feelings from a few months ago were easy to brush aside given Ward’s approval of the move. Although he made it clear that he enjoyed playing in Boston and that it was a little bittersweet to leave a good situation, Carolina would have been his preferred destination if asked.

“I was golfing with some of the band members from Kid Rock when I got a phone call,” said Ward. “It was [Boston GM] Peter Chiarelli. He conveyed to me that he wasn’t going to look to trade me to any place other than Carolina, so it worked out well.”

Ward has always kept his offseason home nearby and was outspoken about his love for the area. Just a few weeks ago, he was instrumental in convincing a former Bruins teammate, Andrew Alberts, that Carolina would be his best bet. As fate would have it, they’re now teammates once again.

“You never burn bridges,” said Ward. “You embrace all the great opportunities you’ve had with every team, and I’ve had some great experiences here in Carolina.

As he’s done for the last several years, Ward has been skating with former-teammate-turned-current teammate Rod Brind’Amour at the RecZone for the last three weeks. In that sense, not much has changed, save for a minor detail or two.

“Now I maybe feel a little bit more comfortable to start getting on his case about his age,” Ward said with a laugh.

At 36, Ward’s not exactly a spring chicken himself, so he’ll already relishing the opportunity to pick on Brind’Amour and Ray Whitney, the only players currently on the roster with more life experience.

However, Ward didn’t give any indication that he’s slowing down. He’s on the last year of his contract, but hinted that he’d like to play at least one more year after this one.

“I’m 36 years old, but I came out of this season feeling better than I ever have,” he said. “Right now, I’m so physically ready to play and feel great about it. I don’t want to start showing my hand, but I’m not going to deny that I’m looking beyond this year. I wouldn’t mind playing further on past 37. 

“I’m not Chelios,” he joked, referring to 47-year-old blueliner Chris, who may not be done yet, “But I don’t think I see the light at the end of the tunnel quite yet.”

Ward echoed many of the things that Jim Rutherford said earlier in the day about the ease of the transition, as he’s familiar with many of the core players on the Carolina roster from the 2006 championship team, and even played under Paul Maurice in his first tour of duty prior to that.

However, there are a few people he’ll still have to get to know, including expected defensive partner Joni Pitkanen.

“We may have complementary styles,” said Ward of that pairing. “I may allow him to be a little more risky in his approach to his game. My role with [Boston partner] Zdeno Chara was to put him in a position to be successful and give him the puck at all opportunities. Maybe that’s the same approach I take with a Pitkanen or whoever my partner is. I’ll just be old reliable back there in sound positioning and smart play.”

For those planning to head out to tonight’s Summer Fun Fest at the RBC Center, Ward will be there at around 6 p.m.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72