Reading and hearing about the hateful language thrown Joel Ward’s way for simply scoring a series-winning goal has been one of the uglier stories of the playoffs. For Ward, it’s something he’s accepted that he’ll have to deal with.
Ward talks about what he’s had to hear about recently but for him, it’s something he’s had to deal with but tries to ignore it all.
“I don’t let it bother me at all,” Ward said as the Capitals returned to practice ahead of tonight’s Game 1 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. “It’s a few people that just made a couple of terrible comments, and what can you do? I know what I signed up for. I’m a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. It’s just going to come with the territory. I’d feel naive or foolish to think that it doesn’t exist. It’s a battle I think will always be there.”
It’s sad to see things play out like this in that Ward feels it’s part of the deal to play in the NHL. It shouldn’t have to be that way, but hateful language in the hands (or fingertips in this case) of a pack of ignoramuses makes sure to bring this issue to the forefront.
While Ward has had a tough first season in Washington, perhaps his game-winning goal in Game 7 is what he needed to become the playoff force we remember from last season.