Cam Ward wants to stay with the Carolina Hurricanes. That was his statement made during the end of season locker room interviews the media had with the players on Tuesday, April 12. Ward’s contract with the ‘Canes is up this year.
Ward has been the Man
Ward is a veteran of 11 years with the Hurricanes, having helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2006, also winning the Conn Smythe trophy as the team’s playoffs MVP. Plays like this against the Edmonton Oilers proved Ward belonged in the company of Patrick Roy as the only other rookie at that time to lead his team to the Cup as a starting goaltender:
The team has really not known another lead goaltender since, with Ward carrying the bulk of the load in between the pipes. His six-year, $36.8 million contract expires this season, and as of now, the future is uncertain for the Saskatoon native. Ward told reporters Tuesday that he is remaining optimistic. Ward said,
“I’ve made it clear that this is where I’d like to be. I’m proud to have been a Hurricane and to have been here for as many years as I have.”
Ward went on to say that the feeling needs to be mutual on both sides.
Francis Weighs in
Whether or not that is the case is something that only Hurricanes’ GM Ron Francis knows for sure, and he’s not saying. Asked about Ward not yet having had his end-of-season exit interview as have other members of the team, Francis said he did that with Ward with Jordan Staal just to give them both a little time between the season’s end and those interviews.
Regarding Ward’s future with the ‘Canes Francis did say,
“I think it’s easy to say let’s turn the page, let’s move forward, but if it doesn’t make us better…we have to do our due diligence. We have to make sure we’re making a decision that makes the organization better. That may be signing Cam, that may be going in a different direction.”
Francis also said he knew it was tough on Ward not knowing at this point, but that he is committed to making the best decision for the team. It is likely that, as was the case with former Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, the deal will come down to term more than dollars. (Click here for the inside story on Staal’s contract challenges with the Hurricanes that led to his departure).
Ward reiterated that Raleigh is his home and that he considers himself very fortunate to have been with the Hurricanes as long as he has. His .909 save percentage and 2.41 goals against average ranked 35th and 23rd in the league respectively. There were flashes of greatness throughout the season for Ward, but there were also times when he looked like the greatness had gone. Fans of the ‘Canes had much to say about Ward and backup Eddie Lack:
@ChristianCande3 both are average at best TBH. If the Canes got slightly better goaltending, they'd be in the playoffs this year
— David Kehrli (@DavidKehrliTN) April 9, 2016
Lack got blown up in is start against the Florida Panthers, the Hurricanes’ last game of the season. It certainly would not be the best image to have of the team if Ward is not in Raleigh next season. One fan said, “At least we know what we’re getting with Ward.”
That’s true, and while still a good goalie in the NHL, he is not an elite goalie in the NHL. The question is whether or not Francis will stay with a known commodity in Ward and offer a contract that is mutually agreeable, or if the due diligence will find another face behind the starting goalie mask going forward. Ward hopes to stay. If he is not re-signed, he will certainly be missed.