Former Capitals forward Joel Ward is back in the NHL, this time as an assistant coach.
The Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights announced on Wednesday that they promoted Ward to serve as an assistant coach on Bruce Cassidy’s staff beginning next season.
The 42-year-old Ward has spent the last three years with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights since retiring as a player in April 2020.
We are thrilled to announce that Dominique Ducharme and Joel Ward have been named assistant coaches for the Golden Knights!!! 👏
Congratulations, Dominique and Joel! #VegasBorn
Full details ⬇️https://t.co/MILmieIHbj
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) July 12, 2023
“Joel has excelled in Henderson during the first three years of his promising career as a coach and we’re excited for him to be taking his next step with us,” Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a release.
The Henderson Silver Knights made the Calder Cup playoffs in Ward’s first two seasons behind the bench. The former NHL forward has received buzz as a rising coaching prospect.
During his time with the Capitals as a player, Ward scored 57 goals and registered 121 points in 276 games from 2011 through 2015. He set his career-high in goals (24) and points (49) with Washington during the 2013-14 season.
Ward is behind one of the most important playoff goals in Capitals history, downing the defending champion Boston Bruins in overtime of Game Seven in the 2012 Playoffs.
Caps fans most remember Joel for his humor, that one time getting locked in a bathroom, and his charity work, especially with Fort Dupont Cannons. Ward wore number 42 in DC in honor of Jackie Robinson.
“I was kind of thinking, when our equipment guy, Brock (Myles), called me and said ‘Hey, what number are you thinking [about wearing]?’ I just kind of took a moment to think about things,” Ward, who wore 29 previously, explained. “I had just finished the (Jackie Robinson) biography at that time, and I said ‘Hey, you know what? Let me see if this is available.’ I asked about [No. 42] and, sure enough, it was.”
Ward decided to retire after his then one-year-old son Robinson got to see him play in a Sharks’ alumni game.
Ward was never drafted into the NHL. Undeterred, he was signed by the Minnesota Wild as a free agent after impressing in the minor leagues and went on to play 11 seasons in the NHL.
Vegas Golden Knights Announce Updates to Coaching Staff
Dominique Ducharme and Joel Ward have been named assistant coaches for the club under Bruce Cassidy
VEGAS (July 12, 2023) – Vegas Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon announced today, July 12, that Dominique Ducharme and Joel Ward have been named assistant coaches for the club under Bruce Cassidy.
“We are extremely pleased with the additions of Dominique and Joel to our coaching staff here in Vegas,” said Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon. “Dominique brings a wealth of coaching experience into our organization and has proven to be a successful leader at multiple levels. Joel has excelled in Henderson during the first three years of his promising career as a coach and we’re excited for him to be taking his next step with us.”
Ducharme, 50, joins the Golden Knights after most recently serving as head coach for the Montreal Canadiens during parts of the 2020-21 and 2021-22 NHL seasons. In 2021, Ducharme led Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1993 before falling short to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Joliette, QC native was originally brought on to Montreal’s staff as an assistant coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Before his time in Montreal and the NHL, Ducharme was head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads (2011-16) and Drummondville Voltigeurs (2016-18). The Mooseheads won the 2013 Memorial Cup under Ducharme’s leadership during his second season as head coach. At the international level, he was Canada’s head coach for the 2017 and 2018 World Junior Championship, winning silver and gold, respectively. During his playing career, Ducharme spent four years at the University of Vermont, where he posted 149 points (54 G, 95 A). The forward also earned time playing professionally between the AHL, ECHL and QSPHL.
Ward, 42, remains with the organization after previously serving as an assistant coach with the Henderson Silver Knights of the AHL since the team’s first season in 2020-21. The Silver Knights reached postseason play during each of their first two seasons with Ward behind the bench. After going undrafted, the North York, ON native spent 11 seasons playing in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild (2006-07), Nashville Predators (2008-11), Washington Capitals (2011-15) and San Jose Sharks (2015-18). Internationally, the forward was selected to represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Championship, where he notched nine points (6 G, 3 A) in eight games. Before his time playing professionally, Ward spent four seasons at the University of Prince Edward Island where he earned his degree in sociology in 2006.
Headline photo: Jenn Pierce/Calgary Wranglers
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