Jason Ward is one tough hockey player, but no matter what good he does on the ice, a rather unfortunate event seems to be cruely hiding right around the corner.
One year removed from riding high after lighting up AHL goalies in a constant manner, the big winger is battling a familiar cause: injuries. At 6’3, 200 pounds, Ward is not a particularily beefy player, something that could be of concern when one considers his robust style of play and never-say-die attitude. Whether it be lack of strength, or just a desire to give it his all and go perhaps a little overboard on the agressive play, Ward’s latest injury, a dislocated shoulder suffered in New Jersey, is one that I find very frustrating.
Love him or not (and chances are, you love him) Jason Ward was doing great things for the Montreal Canadiens after returning from his previous ailment, a broken ankle at the hands of a Vlad Malakhov slapshot which kept him out of the lineup for nearly two aching months. While it took the 25-year-old from Chapleau, Ontario a few games and a conditioning stint with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs to regain that fire in his heart, he came back flying. Forechecking hard, killing penalties to perfection, and even creating offence through defence.
Chances are that Jason Ward will never be the scorer he was in 2002-03, when he won the AHL’s MVP. However, he has already proven that when healthy he is a very key member of the Montreal Canadiens. While players in Ward’s mold; that hard working, lunchpail-type grinder, may appear to be dime a dozen, you can never have enough of them sprinkling your bottom two lines. Even though he has posted just four points this year, a number that looks to remain at a standstill for a while after this latest setback, ‘Wardo’ will continue to work hard up until the point where his production is a little more constant, even if he looks like he’s falling over on his skates to do it. Never a beautiful skater, Ward has underrated speed which can be used very effectively; such as when he is on the penalty kill, when racing for loose pucks, or even putting an extra step of strength into any hits that he dishes out.
When he returns is yet to be seen, but where he plays certainly does not matter. In the same manner as the man he has seen a lot of time alongside, Darren Langdon, Ward will never be complaining about a lack of ice time or less than stellar linemates. Whether he suits up in a bashing role with the much maligned Chad Kilger, sees a game or three from the pressbox, or provides a spark on the defensive unit with the likes of Joe Juneau and Nik Sundstrom, it will always appear that Jason Ward is doing far more damage to himself than he is to his team’s chances of leaving with the victory.