Though he hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2017-18 playoffs, Joel Ward was still hoping to make it back at some point. Today, however, he has given up that chase and announced his retirement through a piece in The Players’ Tribune.
Ward, 39, played 726 regular season games in the NHL, a total he used as the title for his piece. The fact that he even spent a single day at the highest level was not something that seemed possible when he went undrafted and spent four years at the University of Prince Edward Island. The epitome of hard work and not giving up on your dream, Ward would eventually make the NHL with the Minnesota Wild at age-26.
A veteran of 11 seasons, the gritty forward also suited up 83 times in the playoffs. Those postseason games included a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016 with the San Jose Sharks, the closest he ever came to lifting the ultimate prize over his head.
A two-time 20-goal scorer, Ward had 133 over his career and recorded 304 points. A player perfect for the playoffs, his production shot way up when the games meant the most. In his 83 playoff appearances he had 22 goals and 52 points (and 132 hits).