The 2006 Carolina Hurricanes team that lifted the cup will forever go down in our history. There was a netminder that helped take the team to the next level. Where is he now?
Cameron Kenneth Ward. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? The longest tenured goalie in Carolina Hurricane’s history was a staple in net for 12 years and beloved by fans. His incredible run with the team started as a backup and propelled the Canes to their first Stanley Cup victory. So just what is Wardo up to these days?
Heading into the 2005/2006 season, If you asked someone in the hockey community who was backing up Martin Gerber for the Carolina Hurricanes, “I have no idea,” would probably be a common phrase you’d hear.
Drafted 25th overall in the 2002, Ward played his first NHL game on October 5th, 2005 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, coming into the game after Gerber suffered a hamstring injury . He managed to stop 10 of 11 shots and got the nod to start two days later, not only winning the game, but sealing the victory in a shootout.
As Gerber continued to struggle in the 2006 postseason, Ward was called up to start Game 3 against the Montreal Canadiens and never looked back, starting a majority of the playoff games and shutting down New Jersey, Buffalo and eventually Edmonton in the Stanley Cup Finals, earning the Conn Smythe trophy as a rookie; the first since Ron Hextall in 1987.
While the images of Wardo sticking his left pad out in a desperate split to stop a Raffi Torres doorstep shot in Game 7 and him proudly raising the Stanley Cup above his head are burned into our brains, so are the memories of crushing defeat, soft goals and empty dreams of the goalie he once was.
For the next several seasons, Cam continued to find himself with winning records and solid play, but by 2012/2013, the magic had worn off. Ward posted a .908 SV% in only 17 games played and it only got worse. In 2013/2014, Ward posted a .898 SV%, the lowest of his career and some started to question if he was really the starter the team needed.
Ward’s save percentage never rose above .910 for the rest of his time wearing a Hurricanes sweater, hovering around .905. In 2018, Ward was not offered an extension by Carolina and he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent.
Unfortunately, a change of scenery did not yield a different outcome and Cam had one of the worst statistical season of his NHL career, posting a SV% of .897, 3.67 GAA in only 29 starts.
For his recent stumbles, Wardo makes up for it in off the ice goodness. Cam’s Champs was born in 2007, a program allowing special needs youth to experience an NHL game from one of PNC Arena’s luxury suites after his son, Nolan, was born deaf. In 2008, he donated $4 to the Special Olympics of NC for every save he made, raising over $12,000.
Love him or hate him, Ward was the face of the Carolina Hurricanes for 12 seasons. Nobody knows when he will decide to hang up his skates for the final time, but one thing is for sure; Not many players in this league have given back as much as Cam has, not just financially, but with their heart and soul. And for that we are thankful.
Cardiac Cane readers: What is your favorite Cam Ward moment?