It’s become normal through the years. Players move from team to team, where better fits or more lucrative contracts await.
Still, it’s going to be weird tonight for the Nashville Predators to see Joel Ward in a Capitals sweater.
Nashville and Washington square off for a preseason game at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. Ward played the previous three seasons in Nashville and was the star during the team’s historic postseason run during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“It’s going to be different, for sure,” Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne
said. “We all miss him. He was a great teammates and a great player for us. But it’s good to see him happy over there in Washington … You create relationships over a couple of seasons. So obviously you still stay friends with other guys if they move. It’s going to be a little different seeing him playing against us.”
Added Captain Shea Weber
: “I played against him in the minors before he came here, but yeah, it’s going to be different playing against him after playing with him for three years.”
Predators Coach Barry Trotz said whenever Ward – whose nickname is ‘Wardo’ – was on the ice, the coaches would yell for him to move his feet. Trotz joked that there may be more of that tonight.
“The whole bench will be yelling, ‘Move your feet, Wardo!’ ” Trotz said with a laugh. “He was a great guy, a great guy for us, and a great Predators story.”
Trotz said part of the reason Ward appreciated his time in Nashville so much was because of the chance the club gave him.
“He was released from the Minnesota organization and didn’t really get a chance there,” Trotz said. “He came here and earned the right to play. He really started his career here, in a sense. He had a great foundation with lots of trust. His role was pretty significant here. He was sort of my Mr. Fix It. Whatever line that wasn’t going very well, you put Wardo on it and it seemed to stabilize it.”
Ward won’t be repaying any gratitude once the puck is dropped tonight, although Trotz joked that he wouldn’t mind if Ward did.
“Hopefully he will give us a turnover or something as a present,” Trotz said.Rinne OK:
Rinne is sporting some nice bruising under his right eye, but said he’s fine after taking 12 stitches after his mask was hit with a puck during the Winnipeg game on Saturday. There is a little irritation when the padding on his mask rubs against his eyebrow, but nothing that is keeping him from doing his job, Rinne said.Broadcast info:
Tonight’s game will be broadcast on 102.5 The Game, with pregame starting at 6 p.m. CT. A live web stream will be available at nashvillepredators.com. Per NHL regulations, only the states of Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and parts of Kentucky will be able to watch the stream.