Two summers ago, former fan-favorite Joel Ward signed a three-year, $9.825 million contract with the San Jose Sharks after the Capitals, unable to meet the steep demands of the veteran forward, inked Justin Williams.
Fast forward to today and things are not going so well for The Big Cheese in California. According to NBC Sports, Ward will be a healthy scratch against the Calgary Flames tonight. This is the second time in three games that the 36-year old has sat.
— Curtis Pashelka (@CurtisPashelka) December 20, 2016
After scoring 21 goals in the regular season and adding seven more in the Sharks’ impressive run to the Stanley Cup Final, Wardo has been off to a slow start so far this season. The former Capitals forward (and noted enemy of bathroom doors) only has two goals and nine points in 31 games.
Despite Ward’s paltry points total, his underlying numbers have been solid and NBC Sports described the initial scratch as “surprising.” And the second scratch comes after Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said that Wardo’s Sunday game against Chicago was “definitely a step in the right direction.”
On paper, Ward is still a net-positive possession wise. His most common linemate, Logan Couture, is a 52.0 percent possession player with Ward and 47.0 percent without. Joonas Donskoi (who was also scratched recently) has been 56.5 percent with Ward and 50.7 percent without.
Ward’s biggest on-ice issue could well be his five-on-five shooting percentage of 6.1, third-lowest among Sharks forwards. Ward is also shooting 4.8 percent at all strengths, well below his 11.8 percent career average. Beyond that, Ward is generating shot attempts from in close and individual scoring chances at a normal rate. That evidence suggests Ward is unlucky right now.
The last time Ward was scratched, it appears, was during the 2011-12 season while he was still with the Capitals. Ward overslept a meeting and Bruce Boudreau sat him as punishment.
“I basically slept in, missed a team meeting. So I’ve got to pay the consequences of not playing,” Ward said. “I understand it’s part of the team rules. It’s written. I just made a mistake of sleeping in.”
“I didn’t want to do it,” Bruce Boudreau said. “He’s a good player. But the rules have got to be the rules for everybody.”
Now Peter DeBoer is choosing to do so. What a world.
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