After a 14-year NHL career, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that Cam Ward has signed a one-day contract to retire with the team he came to prominence with.
The 2018-19 season was one of transition for Cam Ward. With the Carolina Hurricanes set to pursue a new direction in goal, Ward found himself looking for a new home after spending 13 seasons in Raleigh.
It didn’t take long. The Chicago Blackhawks came calling on the opening day of free agency (the same day that the Hurricanes signed Petr Mrazek), signing the veteran keeper to a one-year contract. With Corey Crawford hampered by concussion issues, Ward was brought in to help solidify the goaltending situation.
While both his save percentage and goals-against average were sub-par (thanks largely to Chicago’s woeful penalty kill), Ward did manage to put up a winning record with a struggling Blackhawks team that missed the playoffs for a second consecutive year.
This summer the Blackhawks decided to go a different route, much like the Hurricanes the year before, signing Vezina Trophy finalist Robin Lehner to a one-year contract.
For the second summer in a row, Ward found himself without a home.
With fall quickly approaching, he faced a tough decision and, in the end, decided to retire with the team he established himself with. Ward fondly reflected on his time with the Hurricanes, an often tumultuous tenure that started with a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup Championship.
Oddly enough, Ward’s playing time with the Hurricanes ended after a season in which he looked rejuvenated while being relied on heavily when his heir apparent in Scott Darling faltered. Despite this, his future with the team seemed to be over and, while many were sad to see him go, few were surprised.
Often burdened by playing behind weak teams, Ward was (as goalies typically are) saddled with a lot of the blame when the team struggled. He did develop a tendency to allow softies at bad times (notably early or late in periods), but he was a product of the team in front of him as much as anything else. This thought is testified to by the consistently unremarkable play by his backups over the years.
I can’t help but wonder how an in-his-prime Ward would look behind the current Hurricanes lineup, but that’s a thought for another day.
For now, I will offer my sincerest best wishes for the man who holds the Carolina Hurricanes goaltending records for games played (668), wins (318), saves (17,261), shutouts (27), minutes played (38,436), and goals (1). A man who showed his love and respect to the fans when he was recognized by the team as a visitor:
Enjoy your retirement, Wardo, and all the best in whatever lies ahead.
What’s your favorite memory of Cam Ward?