For anyone who has seen last season’s episodes of “Chimmer and Wardo” the relationship between 36-year-old Jason Chimera and 34-year-old Joel Ward is one built on a mutual love of food, music and, of course, humor.
Tuesday night at Verizon Center, the two former teammates will line up against each other when Ward and the San Jose Sharks visit the Caps (6:30 p.m. pregame, CSN).
“It’s very emotional,” Chimera said Monday, jokingly holding back tears for the camera. “It’s always weird when you play good friends of yours on other teams. You forget about it when the game starts, but in warmups I’m sure we’ll tell some jokes together.”
When the puck drops, however, Chimera promises it will be all business.
“I’ll hit him,” he said. “He won’t fight me because he’s not a fighter. He’s a lover. Bob Marley. One love.”
Capitals coach Barry Trotz, who gave Ward his first full-time job in the NHL with the Nashville Predators in 2008, said he’s not sure whether to send his third line of Jay Beagle, Tom Wilson and Chimera out against the Sharks’ line of Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture and Ward.
“It’s going to be a lovefest between him and Chimmer if they’re on the ice together,” Trotz said. “If I play the Beagle line against the Marleau line, they’ll be standing next to each other talking.”
If so, it would be a continuation of the conversation Chimera and Ward had Sunday when Chimera asked Ward if he could meet him for dinner Monday night after the Sharks arrived in D.C.
“He said he’s got a long flight and he’s got to rest up,” Chimera said. “He usually caves it up with room service after a long flight.”
Chimera is not the only Capitals player looking forward to catching up with Ward, who was one of the most popular players in the dressing room during his three seasons with the Caps before signing a three-year deal worth just over $9 million to play in San Jose. (The Caps reportedly were not willing to go beyond two years.)
“It’s totally different without him in the room,” said Caps center Michael Latta, who trained with Ward in Toronto over the summer. “He’s a big brother almost. He never yells at you, but if you’re messing up he’s there to tell you. He would take me and (Wilson) out for dinner and stuff like that. He was really good for us.”
In his first two games for the Sharks, victories over Anaheim and Los Angeles, Ward has two assists while seeing time on both the power play and penalty kill.
“It’s unfortunate when you lose good teammates, especially guys who will go through a wall for you,” Chimera said. “But it’s nice to see him land where he did. It’s a good deal and a good fit for him. Good weather, good life and a great organization for him. They’re still a pretty damn good team.”