If you had to pick one word that would describe your typical interview with an NHL player, that word would surely not be exciting. As bland sports figure interviews go, there are few worse than the NHL player interview. Sure, some players can give out a nice sound bite once in a while, but by and large these guys are just flat out boring. Maybe it’s their upbringing, maybe it’s the fact that the hockey players tend to take the team-first stance, who knows? What we do know is that fans and media are all better off when a player like Joel Ward comes around.
Ward plays for the Washington Capitals and is mostly known for two things. First is signing a four-year $12 million contract with Washington based around one solid playoff campaign with the Nashville Predators. Second is being on the receiving end of some cowardly, racist tweets after scoring a game winning goal against the Boston Bruins during game seven of their 2012 NHL playoff series.
You can now add a third thing that Ward will be remembered for and that is his brutal honesty during the course of an interview.
Ward recently underwent sports hernia surgery and decided that this would be a fine topic to discuss while appearing on 102.1 The Edge. Ward started things off by speaking about getting prepared for the surgery.
A gentleman came in, I was hoping for a female nurse and I got a male one, with the razor and said, “I’m here to prep.” So he had to shave away and at the same time he was shaving in that area, he’s looking at me straight in the face and saying “How come you hockey guys are always clean shaven.”
It was the most awkward moment.
From there things went from bad to worse for Ward:
I was being a single male laying in bed like that, I figured I'd try to relieve myself a little bit. Well, sure enough I got a nerve that kinda connects from my seeds us to my scarring that slowly prevents me from relieving myself. It was tough.
It was like a dog-choker, just like a zap, zoop, right around the fellas.
So of course I panic and called the doc and said “listen doc, what’s going on?” At first I tried to beat around the bush about it and say “ok, enough is enough, doc, this is what the problem is.” He’s like, you just had surgery, c’mon, clean it up, sit in bed, take a few pills and watch TV.
Some would say the subject covered by Ward in the interview was inappropriate or out of line, but it was just a young man being candid and honest about something that happened to him. It revealed a, human side, some would say too human, of an athlete, something we don’t see enough of during interviews.
While I can’t say that I would encourage more players to be as forthcoming as Ward was, I would call for players to be a little more open, a little more human. The fans and the media will appreciate the effort.