A relieved and relaxed sounding B's Defenseman Aaron Ward had nothing but good things to say yesterday in his teleconference with GM Peter Chiarelli and the Boston hockey media. And after signing a multi-year extension on Tuesday, the veteran d-man is glad to know that Boston will be his home for a while longer.
“One of the reasons for me to get this done early is I didn’t want to endure the stress of free agency knowing that the Boston Bruins as an organization are going in a good direction," said Ward. “I want to be a part of it.
“I am thrilled that my family and I can sit back and relax going into the summer and enjoy the fact that we have some direction and consistency in our life.
"We know that we are going to be members of the Boston Bruins for awhile here,” he said.
For Aaron and his family, the deal was clearly based on how Ward feels about remaining with the Black & Gold and in New England.
“As a veteran player, you find that you want to make a contribution not only in your performance, but you want to add something else to the locker room," he said. "You want to add something to the direction of the team and to the confidence of the team.
"And I feel like I have done that here.
“I am comfortable with all the players," said Ward. "I feel I have a great rapport with the both the young players and veterans alike. I have a good relationship with the coaching staff. And, for my part, I am very happy, and that is one of the reasons I wanted to come back."
At this stage of his hockey career, being comfortable with the organization was paramount to the defenseman.
“Sometimes it just doesn’t work between players and organizations [but] I feel like the Boston Bruins are a good fit for me,” said Ward in summary.
Besides being a consistent force on the blueline, part of Ward’s role with the B's is to help Captain Zdeno Chara
and Coach Claude Julien with the younger defenseman.
“I help Zee (by reinforcing) what he is trying to get across and with messages that Claude is trying to present," he explained. "I am also a sounding board for the younger guys if they have any questions, but I try not to intervene too much and [would rather] just be there when they need it.”
Ward realizes, however, that it is Coach Julien who sets the tone.
“First and foremost [Claude] is the leader of the team and I have to fall into rank and just know that when he expects something of you, you do it," said Ward. "And if he says that there is a guy he wants me to go work with, I do it.
“You don’t want to be too aggressive because he is the one molding the team and directing it.
"But I think I have a good sense now of where to draw the line, whether there is too much involvement on my end or if I am just trying to help a guy along,” he said.
Now that Ward has found his spot here in Boston, he is ready to help the Bruins get back to the playoffs next season.
“We went through the experience of the playoffs and went to game seven," he said. "And as much as it hurt to lose game seven…we went through a battle together, and we learned how to win.
"And that is the biggest thing going forward and I think that will help our organization.”
Ward and company were happy, but not satisfied, with the progress they made this season. Being a team in a city full of champions, the Black & Gold understand that it is hard to regain the spotlight.
New England demands success, but Ward and the B's are bound and determined to deliver.
“I think as a player, you like to be the center of attention and you want your game, your team, your play to be making some impact in the city," said Ward. "For us, it was enlightening in a way. We saw that when we really started to perform, we started to bring people along on the same voyage that we were on…the fans taught us a lesson that if you put your best foot forward and perform, they will be there for you.
“Hopefully we can keep establishing some level of high performance where people are going to maintain that excitement about the Boston Bruins and be in the forefront…But you have to embrace the fact that there is a challenge there. The Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have set a high standard and it is on us to try to match their effort.”