Former NHL forward Joel Ward has decided to retire. The former San Jose Sharks wing is hanging up the skates after 11 seasons in the NHL. He last played in 2017-18. The news was announced late Monday morning.
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
Joel Ward Retires
Ward had not played since 2017-18. That was his last year with San Jose were he scored just five goals and 12 points in 52 games. He was still a decent physical presence with 35 hits and 27 blocks but his skills were in steep decline at 37-years-old. However, that was just two years after Ward scored 21 goals and 43 points in 79 games. He failed to score at least 20 points just three times in 11 seasons.
The Minnesota Wild originally signed Ward for his debut in 2006-07. He had been a member of the USports league that governs Canadian university athletics. Ward also played one season with the Houston Aeros of the AHL. Ward only played for 11 seasons but maximized his ability as someone who certainly didn’t come from a prestigious junior club. He would score 133 goals and 304 points in 726 games. That is outstanding for a players who was basically signed off the undrafted scrap pile at age-26. His 557 career hits and 498 blocks indicate a strong two-way player overall.
Ward retires as a very respected player from his years spread across four different teams. He was never a top option but still scored more than 45 points twice. He also nearly won the Stanley Cup with San Jose in 2015-16. That was the year the Sharks fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.
Ward’s career is admirable. He came from out of nowhere, debuted in his mid-20s and still managed to score over 300 points. There are players with much higher pedigrees that will never reach that mark. He might never have his number retired but he was a smart, tough player who maximized his abilities every time he played.