Aaron Ward went on the Dennis & Callahan Show this morning to discuss the advantage of home ice in Game 7 of the second-round playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Capitals’ failure to show up in Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins and, of course, to discuss the punch by Scott Walker that left him with a black eye and potential for a broken bone in his face.
“It is a complete joke,” Ward said of the failure to suspend Walker. “If this happened to Sidney Crosby or someone of high value (there would have been a suspension), I’m a plumber in this whole situation, it’s easier to sweep it under the rug.”
Here are some excerpts from the interview, which can be heard by clicking here:
Q: What do you know for sure about Game 7 tonight?
A: I make it a practice to never notify the media that I listen to them so I was listening to you guys on the way in and you guys had some interesting theories.
It’s imperative that you get home ice and you keep home ice throughout the playoffs because you always need that added ingredient to your confidence and psyche. You’re more composed, you feel as if you have the masses behind you and for some reason, it adds to your confidence on the ice. I can’t explain why but it’s just a fact of life, as an athlete, when you have a rowdy crowd, it can be uplifting for your team.
Q: Can the “us against the world” idea work for a team?
A: I honestly think at this stage in the playoffs, the game is played out there and the crowd has an effect on the game. That’s pretty good in the first round but come the second round, I’m not so sure that works anymore.
Q: How’s the shiner looking this morning?
A: I’ve got one. It’s not looking too bad. He got the outside of my eye. Seems like it’s fine right now. If I start putting makeup on the ice, we’ve got bigger issues.
Q: Is there any fracture there?
A: In the playoffs, we aren’t allowed to reveal what is going on so I’ll tell you what I have is a lower body injury.
Q: Did you consider wearing a visor?
A: Back in 1993 I took it off when I was in college and I vowed I would never wear it again. I wore it for two months but I can’t stand it. It’s just the way you’ve been and you’re not willing to change.
Q: To what extent will injuries affect you guys?
A: I think it goes with the game; it’s a badge of honor. You expect to get injured. If you’re not getting injured in a distorted way it means you’re not getting into the corners and getting dirty. That’s more or less the mantra of this team. Zdeno, just by nature. He’s not a guy who shies away from contact. He’s naturally going to have it happen. It’s a war of attrition out there with us and that’s where your medical staff comes into play.
Q: Was going up 2-0 in Game 6 both a blessing and a curse?
A: For us, getting up 2-0, it quelled the crowd. They’re now sitting down. But on the other hand, it’s tough as a road team to go into an opponent’s building and not sit back and protect. Something about it is human nature to try and sit back and protect and I don’t know why it is. You have to fight it. Shift by shift on the bench, players talking to each other insuring that something’s got to change. If someone told me I was going to have a 2-0 lead in Carolina, I would’ve taken the drink out of his hand.
Q: Any reasonable explanation as to why Walker did not get suspended?
A: Have I gotten reasonable explanation? No. My inkling is that sometimes it’s out of convenience, fellas. If you don’t want to do anything about it, then you can find a reasonable explanation and just accept it. I try not to be sour grapes. My biggest retribution of this whole situation is to shake someone’s hand and tell them, “Have a good summer.” I would love to shake hands and know that I’m going to go on and play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the near future. We were able to exercise the way we wanted to play in that game and it was frustrating for them.
Q: He implied in his statement that there was some exchange between you two.
A: It was kind of an intimidating experience to stand there in front of 70 media members and tell them that it’s a joke. I called the media sheep because if you can look at that video and see anything that I said, the only thing I did with Walker was to brush off his punch with my left arm. How I became the instigator or the symbolic idiot in this situation baffles me. I represent everything that has gone wrong in this series for the ‘Canes. We’re a pretty gritty team. It is a complete joke.
I said nothing, he knows I said nothing, management knows I said nothing. If this happened to Sidney Crosby or someone of high value, I’m a plumber in this whole situation, it’s easier to sweep it under the rug.
Q: Blowout or close game tonight?
A: My Game 7 experiences usually get out of hand. I think someone forgot to tell Washington yesterday that the game was going on. Ovechkin was baffled and that guy can only carry the team so far.
Q: What went wrong in the second and third game for you guys?
A: It’s the playoffs. Nothing went wrong. It’s the playoffs. That’s why they make it a seven-game series. It is truly a war of wits amongst the coaches, players playing the system properly, we couldn’t find our momentum and now we’ve found it.