New Opportunity for Ward in Chicago
By Patrick Hoffman
Cam Ward certainly put in years of service with the Carolina Hurricanes and did so with a lot of losing seasons.
This is a guy who worked incredibly hard, won over 300 career games for their franchise, won the team the Cup in 2006 as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the league's best goaltender in the postseason, and was an all around good guy.
Now, Ward, 34, starts the next chapter of his career with the Chicago Blackhawks after signing a one-year, $3 million deal on the first day of free agency. After serving 13 years with just one club, Ward will now be faced with not only a new team, but a new outlook as well.
Unlike the Hurricanes, the Blackhawks have a culture of winning. The franchise won the Cup in 2010, 2013, and 2015 and up until last year, was a common fixture in the playoffs.
What will also be different for Ward is the fact that when he does get between the pipes, he will get to play in front of sold out crowds. The Hurricanes have had attendance issues for years, something the Blackhawks franchise has never heard of.
While the Blackhawks hope that their star goaltender Corey Crawford will be healthy and back in goal for the majority of the games this season, Ward is the perfect guy to backup the team's two-time Cup winning goaltender.
Ward is coming off a solid season. Going into the year, it was expected that newcomer Scott Darling would be the main man between the pipes, but because of his consistent struggles, Ward played 43 games and won 23 of them, had a 2.73 goals against average, a .906 save percentage, and two shutouts.
This should show the team and their coaching staff that should Crawford miss the start of the season or get hurt at some point, Ward can be counted on to in and give the team quality goaltending. When Crawford went down last year, the team got awful goaltending and that was one of the reasons they missed the playoffs.
The Blackhawks are still good enough up front and on defense that they could get back into the playoffs this upcoming season. Hopefully for Ward, he'll get to be a key piece of the puzzle and do whatever he can to help this team get back to where they should be.
Patrick currently covers the NHL here as well as for WTP Sports.
Has previously covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.