Predators forward Joel Ward sat down with NashvillePredators.com to answer questions submitted by you the fans. Ward discussed issues ranging from his adjustment to Nashville to the performance of his fantasy football team this year.
Devan (Nashville): Congrats on a great start this season. You seem to really fit in here and you're becoming a fan favorite. What is your impression of the Predators organization so far? How are you adjusting to life in Nashville? Joel Ward: It’s been great so far, adjusting to Nashville. It’s been a little bit of a run-around for me; I’m car-less right now and I’m still staying at the hotel, but everything’s been great. The whole organization's been very approachable and easy to talk to with anything I’ve needed help with and whatnot. Just getting a good opportunity to play has been a huge bonus. Everything so far has been great; the people have been extremely friendly.
Clayburn (Hohenwald): To this point in your career what is your most memorable moment? Joel Ward: That’s a good question. I’d definitely have to say my first career game when I was up in Minnesota, so far. I had my first game with Minnesota against the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada. That’s something I’ll definitely remember, as well as scoring my first goal here (Oct. 10 at St. Louis in this year's Season Opener). Those two are the games I’ll definitely remember. I have two special moments in my career.
Elijah (Walpole Island First Nation): I am a 9 yr. old Atom hockey player from Ontario. I play left wing with the Mooretown Storm. As a kid growing up, what levels of hockey did you play? Joel Ward: I played all levels. I started from house league growing up at Oriole House League Hockey Association way back when I was 6 years old. And then I grew up playing in the MTHL, the Metro Toronto Hockey League, which is now the GTA, I believe. I played there in Single-A, Double-A, then Triple-A, so I went from Single-A though Triple-A.
Rick M. (St. Louis): What is a typical routine for you on game day? Joel Ward: Basically I get up and I try to have a bowl of raisin bran cereal and some eggs before I head to the rink for pregame morning skate. Then just finish the pregram skate; whatever the coaches want us working on. After pregame I stretch out a little bit and try to get some pasta in me. And then I nap for about an hour or so, get up and try to mentally prepare for the game, shower up, put the suit on, and get to the rink.
Brittany S (Lebanon): Hey Joel, welcome to Nashville! Who has been the most influential person in your life so far and why? Joel Ward: That’s another good question. I’d say my mother. My father passed away a couple of years ago, so my mother’s been there throughout my minor hockey career and as a single parent raising two other boys, so there were three of us. It’s been a long journey, so she’s sacrificed a lot – working a lot of shifts to afford to pay for my minor hockey as well as taking me to games. She’s really been a big mentor for me, both on and off the ice. She hasn’t been down to Nashville yet, but I’m trying to get her down here shortly. I’m trying to fit the schedule, but once we get done with this two-week road trip, hopefully she can make it down.
Norma and Dudley (Toronto): Joel it seems like you are enjoying a really great season. How do did you keep your dream alive of playing in the NHL when it seemed like so many people were counting you out? Joel Ward: You just have to believe in yourself and know that you can do it. That’s the main thing I’ve tried to stress to myself; to stay positive and not let anyone tell you that you can’t do it because you’re too small, too big, or where you’re from, or what hockey background you have. You just have to stay focused on any dream – not just hockey but whatever you want to do in life – and that’s just the approach I took. And I’m just going to keep going until somebody says I physically can’t do it any more. Until I hear that I’m just going to keep pushing.
Nathan (Pleasant Grove, AL): How did Coach Trotz and the rest of the coaching staff tell you that you were going to be on the opening night roster? Joel Ward: That was different … it was pretty quick. I just basically was hiding in the wash room, because I figured I’d just hide from the coaches, so if they couldn’t find me they couldn’t tell me any news. But basically they just told me I was going to be here for the weekend and the Opening Day Roster and congratulations. And then obviously just to keep working hard. I figured that was just Step 1 of trying to establish myself here and to have some trust in my teammates as well. It was a great feeling. I remember when Coach Trotz just kind of walked by me before practice and said I was going to be on the trip to St. Louis; it was pretty brief and pretty quick, but to me it was a pretty big moment. I played it off like it wasn’t a big deal, but inside it was a big moment.
Jimmy B. (Chattanooga): How did it feel to score your first goal in your first-ever regular season game as a Predator? Joel Ward: That was unbelievable. I don’t think I was expecting that, but it was a good feeling. I tried a little quick wrap-around in front and it hit the side a little bit. J.P. (Dumont) found the puck and I just tried to get open in the slot. J.P. passed it to me and I just tried to one-time it as hard as I could and it went in. It was a great play and definitely something I will remember for the rest of my life.
Steven K (Toronto): First of all - Congratulations! I've read this summer that you were doing everything you could to get in the best shape of your life to crack the Preds lineup. As well, this was the first summer in awhile that you spent entirely in your home town of Toronto. How did your family and friends help you with the sacrifices you had to make in order to have your best NHL camp yet? Joel Ward: They were supportive of me. I have a good group of friends there back in Toronto. They were supportive on and off the ice and they definitely helped me make better choices in certain situations and that’s what friends are for. I couldn’t ask for a better group. A lot of my close friends don’t play hockey; it’s always good when people understand what you are trying to do as a career and help you to get along with that career and on the right path.
Rohit (Madisonville, KY): What are some of your hobbies? Joel Ward: I’m a big movie guy; I like movies. I like listening to music as well. Fantasy Football with my friends back home is a big one this time of year. I take a little bit of pride in that; pretty good this year. It’s a 14-team league with my friends from back home I’m in third or fourth place right now, so I’m hanging on. I put a lot pride in that one, a lot of bragging rights. Those are my main hobbies.