RALEIGH, N.C.—Word spread quickly Wednesday that Cam Ward, for many years the franchise goalie for the Carolina Hurricanes, was officially retiring from the NHL.
Those who played with Ward were especially happy to learn he had signed a one-day contract with the team, allowing him to retire as a member of the Hurricanes.
“Obviously when you’ve played so long for this team, and bringing the (Stanley) Cup here and all the years he played after that, and all he’s done in the community and living here and being a part of North Carolina, he should definitely retire as a Hurricane,” Canes centre Jordan Staal said Wednesday.
Ward, 35, was drafted in 2002 by the Hurricanes, taken in the first round. As a rookie, he was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the playoffs MVP in the Canes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run. He holds franchise records for career regular-season games (668), wins (318) winning percentage (.557), shutouts (27) and saves (17,261).
Ward played what became the final season of his career in 2018-19 with the Chicago Blackhawks after signing a one-year contract as a free agent in July 2018. His career NHL numbers: 334-256-88 record, a 2.74 goals-against average and 27 shutouts.
“I think he was and always will be kind of a legend in the Hurricanes organization,” Canes defenceman Jaccob Slavin said.
It’s believed Ward could continue to be associated with the organization as much as former Canes forward Erik Cole has since his retirement — Cole serving as a team ambassador.
“It was an honour and a privilege to wear the Hurricanes jersey for 13 years,” Ward said in a statement. “Throughout it all, what stayed clear to me was my love for this organization, this city and this fan base. It is why my family and I call Raleigh home, and will continue to call it home. I appreciate all of the support the fans gave me throughout the highs and the lows. I thank you.
“I’d also like to thank the great teammates, coaches and staff members I worked with during my time as a player in Carolina. I will always treasure my memories as a player at PNC Arena, from winning the Stanley Cup to representing the organization in the All-Star Game. While this wasn’t an easy decision, I’m looking forward to making the transition with my family and seeing what the future holds for me, post career.”
Ward made what was an emotional return to PNC Arena last season with the Blackhawks, stopping to admire a collage of photos from Canes fans in the hallway near the Blackhawks’ locker room. It was strange seeing him begin the game in the visitors crease in the south end of the arena after so many year of being on the north end, wearing No. 30 for the Canes.
“I’ll forever be grateful for what the Hurricanes organization and the fan base, the community and friends have all done for me,” Ward said in an interview before the game. “When it’s all said and done, I can look back at all the great memories I had over the years in that city. The plan doesn’t change that it’s where I want to retire and reside.”
Now, he has retired.
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