Aaron Ward scored the first goal ever in Arrowhead Pond (now Honda Center). It seems only appropriate that he played his final game there as a member of the Ducks.
The 37-year-old defenseman announced his retirement Tuesday. The Ducks chose not to re-sign him, and a successful run in the TSN booth during last season’s playoffs probably opened more doors in broadcasting than were open in the NHL.
Ward was acquired March 3 from the Carolina Hurricanes for the Ducks’ fourth-round pick at the June entry draft and goaltender Justin Pogge. In 17 games with the Ducks, Ward had two points (both assists), eight penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating.
His NHL career spanned 15 seasons and 839 games. Ward finished with 44 goals, 107 assists and 151 points to go along with 736 penalty minutes. He spent the first five seasons of his career with the Detroit Red Wings (1996-2001), played in five seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes (2001-2006, 2009-10), played three seasons with the Boston Bruins (2006-2009), as well as one season for the New York Rangers (2006-07). Ward was also part of three Stanley Cup teams, winning two championships in Detroit (1997, 1998) and one in Carolina (2006).
“I’m very proud to have played for as long as I did in the NHL, with and against the best players in the game,” he told NHL.com. “This game has left me with countless memories and relationships, especially from those Stanley Cup-winning teams in Carolina and Detroit. Thank you to my family, fans, friends and teammates for all of the great years.”
Oh, and about that first goal at The Pond … Ward was asked about it on his first day with the Ducks in March.
“I got the puck from (Sergei) Fedorov on a one-timer,” he recalled. “I
think Ray Sheppard passed it to him. It was in this blue line right by
the Ducks’ defensive door. I went top-shelf. I think it was Guy Hebert (in goal)
at the time.
“No, I don’t remember anything about it,” he deadpanned.