Capitals’ forwards Eric Fehr and Joel Ward watched helplessly as the Rangers’ Derek Stepan sent a puck flying past Braden Holtby in Game Seven of the second round last year. Both wanted to win a Stanley Cup with Washington. But as the Capitals blew a three-games-to-one series lead, Stepan’s overtime tally became their final play with the team.
If the offseason, the Capitals acquired Justin Williams and TJ Oshie, letting Ward and Fehr walk. Ward, going to the Sharks, and Fehr, going to the Penguins, signed three-year deals worth $9,825,000 and $6,000,000 respectively. Now, they will face each other in the Stanley Cup Final, which begins Monday night in Pittsburgh.
“Fehrsie and I were good buddies when we played together,” Ward said Sunday. “It just kind of happened and we parted ways. I went left and he went right. And here we are.”
Ward had a successful first season in San Jose, tallying 20-plus goals for the second time in his career. Now, he’s scored four goals in his last two games to lead the Sharks to the Final. Fehr, meanwhile, had seven goals during an injury-plagued regular-season. He has two goals so far in the playoffs.
“He’s a great player,” Fehr said of Ward Monday. “He helps any team that he’s with. He just brings so many things to the table that a lot of guys don’t. He’s been strong for the Sharks. He’s a big part of them getting here, especially in the third round. You expect him to play big.”
While Ward is putting up better numbers, Fehr has a clear edge on the awkwardness front. He just played the Capitals in the second round two weeks ago.
“Oh you know, it’s going to be a little less weird than playing your entire old team,” Fehr said with a laugh.
Despite playing for different teams on different coasts, Fehr and Ward have remained friends in part due to their “little special bond” as Blue Jays fans, as Ward put it.
“You know the guys love him,” Ward said of Fehr. “He likes to get on the guys and rub them the other way as well. He’s a good guy in the locker room.”
Both players have done plenty of talking about each other recently. What they haven’t done, however, is talk to each other. It is, after all, the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s nice to see familiar faces, but we’ll talk two weeks from now,” Fehr said.
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