It’s time for facts to be faced because Ward is — and has been for a while — on the market.
Multiple reports from the likes of Darren Dreger and Mark Spector have thrown Ward’s name around in the trade conversation. Nothing credibly specific has surfaced, but in the NHL it’s a safe assumption that once a name is brought up, calls have been made. No matter how often they might miss one, guys like Dreger and Spector draw a paycheck because they know things like this and are right more often than they’re wrong.
Hurricanes fans and players are well aware of the bromance between Ward and Carolina GM and human what-not-to-do poster Jim Rutherford. Rutherford has made an investment in Ward to the tune of nearly $40 million over six years. The problem with that is Ward signed that contract in 2010 when he could still play consistently. Had anyone known what a cream puff he’d eventually turn into that contract would have been a punchline.
Ward is an incredibly nice guy; players like him, kids look up to him, and he’s insanely popular with the puck bunnies. The problem with all of that is that when he’s actually healthy, he’s touch-and-go. He’ll have a great game, people will declare him ‘back’ — and just as quickly he stinks the joint up again. No matter what a great guy he is and how many jerseys he sells, the fact is he’s barely half the goalie he used to be.
The very real possibility of Ward being traded is something fans need to go ahead and make their peace with. It may or may not happen in the immediate future, but it’s definitely a thing — an extremely real thing that should be accepted.