Former Capitals forward Joel Ward announced his official retirement on Monday with an emotional letter written in The Players’ Tribune. Ward’s career spanned 11 seasons and four teams. He ultimately played in 726 games despite going undrafted.
Ward’s letter is very fittingly entitled “726.”
“Hockey is a beautiful game, and it works in mysterious ways,” Ward wrote. “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.”
Ward has not played professionally since the 2017-18 season, but did not officially step away in the hopes that he would still be able to sign a contract somewhere.
“I know I didn’t play the last two years, but I tried,” Ward wrote. “I did. I wish I could have gone out in a bit of a different way. But, you know, just thinking about it all — all 726 games — I realized something. Who am I to wish for any more time? I got what I wanted. I’m one of the lucky ones.”
Ward came to the Capitals in 2011 and played four years for Washington. He will forever be remembered by Caps fans for scoring the Game 7 overtime winner over the Boston Bruins in 2012.
In his letter, Ward references all the support he received from his mother and his now-deceased father in what is really a touching tribute to both. For any Caps fans out there who remember Wards’ time in Washington, it is certainly worth the read.
Ward also notes the being a dad was the deciding factor in hanging up the skates.
“That’s, I think, what made me ready to call it a career,” Ward said. “I just wanted to be a dad.”
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