Joel Ward officially ended his playing career April, but he’s already returning back to the sport in an official capacity. This time as a coach.
The Hockey News’ Ken Campbell is reporting that Ward is expected to be named an assistant coach with the Henderson Silver Knights, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights, later this week. The story is entitled Can Brett Peterson and Joel Ward become first Black GM and head coach in NHL history?
Hearing that later this week, former NHLer Joel Ward will be named an assistant coach with the Henderson Silver Knights, the AHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. https://t.co/ZVjMYbFkUZ
— Ken Campbell (@THNKenCampbell) November 18, 2020
Ward will join Manny Viveiros, who was hired as the team’s first head coach in August, behind the bench. According to the AHL, Viveiros has 13 years of coaching experience, including stints as a head coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs (2019-20), an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers (2018-19), and two years as a general manager and head coach with the WHL’s Swift Current, where he won league Coach of the Year honors in 2017-18 while capturing the WHL championship.
The undrafted Ward was a hardworking player and an affable teammate, playing 726 NHL games with the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, and San Jose Sharks. Nicknamed The Big Cheese, Ward always stepped up in the playoffs and scored one of the biggest playoff goals in Capitals history, a rare Game Seven overtime series winner against the Boston Bruins in 2012.
“Hockey is a beautiful game, and it works in mysterious ways,” Ward wrote in the Players’ Tribune. “Some players, they end on a perfect high, some have it taken from them. But me, I kind of thought it was fitting that I went out the way I came in — without anybody really noticing.”
Since ending his career, Ward has tried to make the sport he loves most a more welcoming place for others. Wardo was among seven current and former Black NHL players to form the Hockey Diversity Alliance. The mission of the group is to “eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey” and “be a force for positive change not only within our game of hockey but also within society.”
In February, Ward returned to DC to host a street hockey clinic for kids, including many from the Fort Dupont Cannons. The next day, Ward dropped the ceremonial first puck before the Penguins/Capitals game while wearing a Black Girl Hockey Club hoodie.
Headline photo: Elizabeth Kong/RMNB
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