Joel Ward is not color blind. He knows racism exists and there is little he can do to stop it.
So when the Capitals 31-year-old right wing became the subject of racist remarks on Twitter following his series-clinching overtime goal Wednesday night in Boston, he rolled with it.
For me its pretty simple, Ward said Friday after receiving a standing ovation when he stepped on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I dont let it bother me at all.
Its a few people who made some terrible comments. What can you do? I know what I signed up for. Im a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. Its going to come with the territory.
Id be nave or foolish to think it doesnt exist. It is what it is and its going to be part of life.
One of the most well-liked players in the Capitals locker room, Ward said hell remember the positive response he received following his game-winning goal much longer than he will the negative tweets.
My phone has been crazy with a lot of friends and family, He said. Even people I went to school with in kindergarten found me and left messages for me. The main thing for me was to feel a part of it and to contribute to a game like that.
With his goal, Ward became just the third player in Capitals history to score a playoff series-clinching goal in overtime. Dale Hunter 1988 and Joe Juneau 1998 are the others. .
Its big to be part of any history, he said. I was excited for myself and for the team.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said its important for athletes to not take criticism from fans personally.
He knows we love him as a person and a hockey player, Ovechkin said. Sometimes fans say good things and sometimes they say bad things. Hes strong, hes funny. Hes right now the Michal Jordan of hockey.
As for racism, Ward said the issue is far too big for a single person to tackle.
Obviously, the battle will always be there, he said. Its just a topic that will always exist.
Alexander Ovechkin's offseason continues to be one for the books.
Just a week removed from celebrating with the Stanley Cup in Moscow, Ovechkin was named Best Male Athlete Wednesday night at the 2018 ESPYs.
The 32-year-old is the first NHL player to win the award since it was first introduced in 1993.
"The Great Eight" beat out Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros, James Harden of the Houston Rockets and Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
Ovechkin was not in Los Angeles to accept the award.
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On Wednesday night ESPN hosts their yearly sports award show, the ESPYs, to celebrate the best of the last 365 days in sport.
One thing they will not be celebrating, or did not even consider celebrating, was Braden Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.
This year there were 16 plays nominated to be the “Best Play” and were seeded into a bracket. For the past month fans have been voting in each head-to-head matchup culminating in four pretty outstanding plays:
All of those plays can be viewed here.
Three of those four were in a championship game, the other was a just a once in a lifetime play from a teenager.
But the ESPYs are saying that there are 16 plays from this past year that were better than Holtby’s save… Can we really believe that? Everyone loves buzzer beaters, but they accounted for six of the 16 plays. One of them could have easily gotten bumped.
And aside from the three listed above there were only two that were in the championship event for each sport. Holtby could have rounded it out for six.
We’re not saying that Holtby’s play was the best in the past year, or even in the top four. Heck, there should be no one that tops Ogunbowale’s incredible heroics. But arguably the best play in D.C. sports history not making the top-16 for best plays in a 365 day period?
It must have been one heck of a sports year.
For those that are nominated, Alex Ovechkin is a finalist for Best Male Athlete and Best NHL Player. The Capitals are in the running for Best Team.