On a sunny day in mid-July, Aaron Ward stood on the infield of Fenway Park, telling reporters how exciting it was going to be to play hockey in the world’s oldest ballpark.
Just two weeks later, Ward is making new plans for New Year’s Day.
After being traded to Carolina, the 35-year-old veteran is moving on.
“It’s always good to go to a new situation where people welcome you back and they’re excited to have you,” Ward told Cole Wright on NESN’s SportsDesk regarding his return to Carolina, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2006. “It kind of gives you the adrenaline rush … that little bit of juice to your ego.”
Of course, becoming a member of the Hurricanes means becoming a teammate of Scott Walker, a man who, just two months ago, inexplicably clocked Ward in the eye on the Garden ice. Ward said that after an extended conversation with Walker over the weekend, he’s willing to leave that incident in the past.
“[Walker] explained to me that since I’ve been traded, he’s talked to a number of media outlets and explained that he feels like he was at fault in that situation,” Ward said. “But he also told me that as an athlete, there’s always another side and there’s that life to the outside game. I don’t know if
many people know, but his wife was diagnosed that same day with cervical
cancer, so his head wasn’t exactly in it.
“I’m a teammate, and
those things are now in the past and it’s water under the bridge.”
Ward also expressed gratitude toward Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli for saying the only place he would trade Ward is Carolina, where he lives in the offseason.
“There’s not often a touch of humanity involved in sports. It’s often about bottom dollar,” Ward said. “So I’m indebted to him for having considered the fact that Carolina is my offseason home and my eventual spot of retirement.”
Chiarelli also joked that once his playing career is over, Ward could be stealing the jobs of those in the media that cover him. While Ward kept the prospect open, it’s not something he’s ready to think about.
“Honestly, I think it’s an avenue I might explore but I like the fact that since I’ve gotten down here to Carolina, most talk has been about the fact that not only do I have the end of this year, in terms of my contract, but the expectation is that I’ve got many more years to come to play,” he said. “That is my intention. I’m not ready to start talking about what I’m going to do post-career. I’m dealing with the here and now and I’m excited.”
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