|Aaron Ward on M&M: ‘It’s not a quick fix’ to put Tyler Seguin on power play||05.16.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
NHL analyst and former Bruin Aaron Ward joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Eastern Conference finals, which the Bruins trail 1-0 after Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Ward cautioned Bruins fans not to panic despite the rough start.
“It’s a feeling-out process,” he said. “It’s funny to listen to Tampa talk about all the time they had off, and [Martin] St. Louis was utterly concerned about the rust level. They obviously didn’t show a whole lot of rust in Game 1. And I think Boston did. That’s why it’s seven games. The sky’s not falling yet. There’s no Chicken Little yet.”
The Bruins power play continues to be a disaster, with an 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 making the B’s 2-for-41 in the postseason. However, Ward said he doesn’t think rookie Tyler Seguin is the answer.
“If they were going to shake it up they would have done it a while ago,” he said. “Right now, if the stat’s right, they’ve got the third-worst power-play percentage in the last 25 years in the playoffs. And that’s just one of those things where maybe it’s a personnel thing. And it’s not that someone’s not getting it done. But maybe you shake it up and you integrate some of the first power play with the second power play, get some new life, new blood in it.
“And I know everybody’s screaming for Seguin, but I think you have enough veteran guys in that locker room that can figure it out amongst themselves. You don’t need to put a young guy on and put the pressure on him to direct the power play.”
Ward said Claude Julien was proven correct to avoid making major moves when the Bruins fell behind the Canadiens 2-0 in the opening round, and that’s the way he’ll continue to manage his team.
“It’s how Claude coaches,” Ward said. “And Claude has my utmost respect. He’s a guy that sticks with what got him there. He’s not a knee-jerk-reaction kind of coach. He knows what he wants out of his team. He knows the philosophies to take into a game. Everybody was screaming for Seguin during the Montreal series and they get out of it. Then they cruise through Philadelphia. It’s part of the playoffs.
“Everybody looks for that, ‘Well, it’s a quick fix.’ It’s not a quick fix. One player doesn’t change the direction of an entire team. Twenty guys on the ice can have that effect. One guy doesn’t have it. One guy can hurt a team. But one guy can’t drastically improve the percentage of winning a team. A guy getting in there, a guy like Seguin can do a lot of things ‘ like, nice, young, fresh legs, very healthy, fresh outlook on the game ‘ and be a catalyst in that manner. But he’s got to be given an opportunity to get himself accustomed to the playoffs.”
|Ward retires||08.24.10 at 11:51 am ET|
Former Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward has announced his retirement from the league after spending the last season of his 13-year career between the Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks. He won three Stanley Cups in his career.
Ward joined the Bruins in a February 2007 trade with the Rangers that sent Belmont native Paul Mara to New York. Ward played 20 games with the Bruins that season and spent the next two in Boston, totaling 26 points with the team. He was traded to the Hurricanes last offseason in exchange for Patrick Eaves and a fourth-round draft pick.
While in Boston, Ward also created his “Cuts for a Cause” charity event with what was at the time WBCN 104.1 FM. In its two year history, which began in 2008, the Bruins had seven and 13 players shave their heads, respectively, to benefit the MassGeneral Hospital for Children.
|Ward on D&H: ‘Boston’s on the upswing’||05.18.10 at 12:54 pm ET|
Former Bruin Aaron Ward, who is serving as an analyst for NHL coverage on Versus, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Ward said the Bruins were in a difficult situation in their series vs. the Flyers. “It’s tough to overcome the loss of your two top scorers in Marco Sturm and David Krejci. And then couple that with Philadelphia getting back Simon Gagne. That’s a tough one to deal with,” said Ward, who finished this season with the Anaheim Ducks.
Ward said Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that the future is bright for this team. “Boston’s on the upswing. They’ve got a great situation now with the draft, they’ve got a great situation where they have a lot of key, young guys that have that experience in the playoffs, regular season, that familiarity with the city. And it means a lot to a team to where you can start forming some sort of consistency and looking toward becoming a dynasty.”
Ward, who said he would return to Boston “in a heartbeat,” defended the leadership of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, saying: “He possess every intangible. … He knows when to say something and when not to.”
Ward was traded by the Bruins last offseason to the Hurricanes. There he became teammates with Scott Walker, who sucker-punched Ward in the face during their playoff series last season. Ward said it didn’t take long to put hard feelings aside. “The first phone call from a player [after the trade was finalized] was Scott Walker,” Ward said. “That was pretty easy to deal with, because we aired it out right there, put it right on the table, and there was no issue. We’re big boys. One of the things I found out right after that punch was that Scott’s wife had cervical cancer, and that was the day he found out. So, you know what, there’s times in the game as a player, as a human, you figure out you’ve got to cut him some slack because you never know what kind of frame of mind you’d be in in that situation.”
|Bruins looking for a ‘little bit of revenge’ against Canes||10.03.09 at 1:02 pm ET|
Revenge was on the mind of several Bruins players Saturday morning headed into a game against a Carolina Hurricanes team that eliminated them in heart-wrenching overtime fashion in Game 7 last season.
It wasn’t the biggest or most prevalent thought after dropping a bomb against the Washington Capitals opening night, and the B’s know that priority number is getting their own hockey house in order. But hockey players have long memories when it comes to sudden, season-ending defeats with the kind of passion raised by a seven-game series leading to the conference finals.
B’s coach Claude Julien said he didn’t care what motivated his team ‘ whether they needed the extra little oomph from last year’s series with the Canes or a public drubbing at the hands of the Caps was more than enough ‘ but he expected a far different hockey team out of the gate and through 60 minutes in game No. 2.
‘Is it revenge? Is it about this year, about winning a hockey game? It can be about a lot of different things,’ said Julien. ‘I don’t care how the guys think about it. I just really care about us going out there, and it’s more about how we’re going to perform tonight than anything else. Whichever way they want to motivate themselves, that’s OK with me. We just have to bounce back from a tough outing.’
Julien pulled Lucic aside during Friday’s practice and had a long chat with his Hulk on skates, and it was most likely about the lack of first line impact in their 4-1 loss to the Caps. The trio totaled one shot on net through 60 uninspired minutes, and Lucic practically invited Alexander Ovechkin over for tea and crumpets when the Russian winger climbed through Big Bad Looch in the slot for his second goal of the night.
Plenty of the Bruins were still stuck in their hibernating slumber Thursday, and the Hurricanes just might be enough to poke the Bear in the cage.
‘Obviously they’re a team that spoiled our season last year, and I think there’s a lot of thinking going into this game that [Carolina] would be a great team to get us on the right track,’ said Milan Lucic. ‘They’d be a great team to get our first win against.
‘It’s definitely not going to be easy and we expect them to come out hard. Everybody is still a little bitter about what happened last year. It’s only the regular season, but they’re a big two points that we need. Get that first win of the season, and it’d be a lot nicer if it comes against these guys. Not a lot of revenge, but just a little bit. Just enough [payback] to have a smile on your face when the game is over.’
The B’s and Canes had almost mirror-image openers ‘ with the B’s losing on Thursday and Carolina dropping a similarly uninspired debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night ‘ and both finished with 0-fers on the power play while struggling to put together offense.
With Tim Thomas in net and no discernible changes to the lineup after Saturday morning’s skate, here are a few thoughts from a select group of B’s players when asked what sticks in their mind from last season’s playoff defeat.
Lucic: ‘The way they came out. I was real impressed with the way they came out and put us back on our heels, and they put in a real team effort. Guys stepped up for them to score big goals. Just the way they were able to apply pressure and keep it on. I was definitely impressed with the way they were able to do that. We don’t expect anything less from them. The worst thing you can do is underestimate them because they played last night and think they’re going to come out slow. They’ll have that extra bit of jump to get that first win of the year.’
Byron Bitz: ‘Losing, I guess. That was just bitter. Especially the way we battled back in that series. To come up one goal short was pretty tough to take. You look at the lineup is pretty similar to what they have this year. It’s a new season. You don’t want to say ‘revenge’ but it’s important to come out tonight and have a pretty good effort. We played them seven hard games and it’s definitely still in our minds. I watched Game 7 on replay just at the start of camp and watched it. Didn’t get all the way through it. It was such a long game and I already knew the ending.’
David Krejci: ‘For me, it’s over. What happened last year happened. We know what happened last year, but it’s a new season and we’re looking forward to it. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m over it. I don’t want to go back to it. It was hard, and now we’re here with our team for this year. I don’t want to talk about losses. I just want to talk about the games we won.
Dennis Wideman: ‘There’s a little extra excitement tonight, and hopefully we can take it to them. When I think about that series, it’s about not playing our best. We didn’t play as good as we could, and we didn’t play like we did in that first series [against the Canadiens]. That’s what leaves the sour taste. If you play as good as you can and you still lost a series, then it’s a little easier to swallow than if you didn’t play as well as you can.
—Aaron Ward will be in his first game back at the Garden since the summer deal to the Carolina Hurricanes, and he’ll be paired with ex-Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts. Ward has been a steadying, off-beat influence in the Carolina dressing room, and was exactly what the doctor ordered for team chemistry and defensive stability ‘ the same kinds of things he brought to Boston for almost three years. He even has his own radio show in Carolina, something that isn’t shocking to Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.
‘He did a good job last night seeking out the puck carrier in our end and playing physical, which is what we know him to be from playing all those games against him last year,’ said Maurice. ‘He’s a good calming veteran guy with a pretty wicked sense of humor. We like those guys around here. They keep things loose when the grind comes.
‘He’s got a bit of a prankster in him. I think he enjoys it. I think you see that with guys like him when they get a little older and get more secure in their careers. When you’ve got three Stanley Cup rings you can probably enjoy the game a little bit. You have to have those kinds of guys in the room, and I think they’re really critical to how your [locker] room operates.’
|Putting the ‘B’ back in the Bruins||05.18.09 at 6:14 pm ET|
The Bruins are Boston’s darlings once again. Even with the heartbreaking end in Game 7 against Carolina, these Bruins seemed to have captured the imagination of the blue-collar fan while casting in the average fan who heretofore has been preoccupied with the Red Sox, Celtics and Patriots.
“It was honestly one of the best (experiences),” 36-year-old defenseman Aaron Ward said on break-up Monday at the Garden. “I came in here two years ago towards the tail-end of the season and I don’t know if people even knew what the ‘B’ represented anymore. We didn’t have an identity. We didn’t have guys that you could associate with or to. You ask people who their favorite Boston Bruin was and they’d reach to yesteryear and it would be Cam Neely or Ray Bourque or Johnny Bucyk and now I think the game is revitalized.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Aaron Ward on D&C: ‘It is a complete joke’||05.14.09 at 12:01 pm ET|
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.
|Walker facing suspension after “sucker punch” incident||05.11.09 at 10:19 am ET|
The hibernating Bears woke up on Sunday night, and there shouldn’t be too much worry about any more hockey naps in the remaining two games of the semifinal series against the Carolina Hurricanes. The big question is why the Carolina Hurricanes chose to poke the proverbial Bear in the Cage during a Game 5 blowout, and never was that more evident than Scott Walker’s sucker punch of Aaron with less than five minutes to go in the third period.
Ward and Canes forward Matt Cullen were engaging in the exact kind of pushing and shoving that was evident through the entire game, and Walker came out of nowhere to jump into the fray as the third man in. Walker and Ward both threw quick gloved shots at each other, and then Walker crossed over the line with an overhand right at Ward’s face while the Bruins defenseman still had his gloves on.
It was clear Ward wasn’t going to fight, and Walker took that as open invitation to slam his unprotected face. Walker was tossed from the game with a misconduct, fighting penalty and instigator penalty and — according to section 47.22 of the NHL rule book — the Hurricanes is automatically suspended for a game pending review after drawing an instigator penalty in the final five minutes of regulation.
Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated after the game that team doctors believe that Ward may have a broken orbital bone as a result of the incident — and that the veteran defenseman could be lost to the Bruins for at least a few games as a result of the injury.
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who got a clear view of the incident as it happened right in front of the Boston net, essentially said it was a bush league move during a postgame interview with Versus following the third period incident: “That’s one of the worst sucker punches I’ve ever seen. That is something I haven’t seen since I was in the AHL.”
It will be interesting to see how far NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell takes the punishment with an incident like this, which he’ll already be reviewing given the instigator penalty rule. The NHL has an unwritten rule that they come down much harder on infractions when an injury results, and that appears to be the case with Ward’s injury. If Ward is out, the Black and Gold will be forced to dip into their supply of Black Aces at Providence and perhaps tap Johnny Boychuk for defenseman duty after only a handful of NHL games this season.
Here’s the youtube footage of the Walker “sucker punch” with an assist to www.hockeyfights.com: