Ever since signing on with Nashville in 2008, Predators forward Joel Ward has grown to become one of the more likeable players in the dressing room and with the fans. I caught with him to get an update on how the season is going, among other things.
RLD: Through ten games, how would you assess this team’s performance, wins and losses aside? Joel Ward: We’ve got some work to do. I can’t pinpoint on what we’re rated on yet. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs so far… quite a few positives. It’s the negatives that we’ve got to get rid of, and that’s going to be key on this stretch coming up.
RLD: Special teams seems to be a focus point here early on, you get ice-time on both units; from what you’ve seen, what has and hasn’t gone wrong? Joel Ward: Basically just paying attention to details; being in the right place at the right time. It takes a lot of work ethic and just executing. If you know the game-plan ahead of time and just execute you’ll have pretty good success.
It’s a role that I take pride in and try to help my team out on both ends of the ice. I’d obviously like to execute in some areas on both sides. I just have to worry about my details and stay focused, be positive, and hopefully get some good outcomes. RLD: Are you guys using the playoff loss as motivation all year? Joel Ward: I think so. It’s in the back of our minds, especially the guys who were here. We’ve got guys from different backgrounds and different teams, so it’s definitely a new experience. It’s going to be something we remember for sure, but not something we’ll dwell on.
RLD: In 2008 when you came here to Nashville, something clicked that didn’t with the Minnesota organization. What was the difference? Joel Ward: I think I learned a lot in Houston and my coach Kevin Constantine down there. He taught me how to play the game properly and what it takes to get to this level. I just tried to take as much knowledge as I could and try to come here with a game-plan and get a job here… I was fortunate to do so. I just keep working hard and try to get better each day. It’s a tough league to be in, I definitely take a lot of pride in it, and just want to stay here as long as possible.
RLD: You guys are getting ready to hit the road here… what’s your favorite NHL city and why? Joel Ward: It’s a tough call… my hometown of Toronto is a good spot, just because it’s hometown, but it definitely costs me a lot of money so I’m not gonna say that’s my favorite. I’m gonna say Chicago… overall it’s a good city with good restaurants, good food, good shopping and everything. It’s a pretty cool city and good people as well.
RLD: You guys are doing ‘Movember’ this month… who in here will grow the best mustache? Joel Ward: Oh gosh. Smithson grows a real creepy one, I don’t know if it’s the best one or not. I think J.P. can grow a mean one; he can grow a mean beard, too, I believe… look out for him. Pekka has been trying since Kindergarten but he’s failed so far (laughs). He’s definitely not on the radar!
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.