Joel Ward is not color blind. He knows racism exists and there is little he can do to stop it.
So when the Capitals 31-year-old right wing became the subject of racist remarks on Twitter following his series-clinching overtime goal Wednesday night in Boston, he rolled with it.
For me its pretty simple, Ward said Friday after receiving a standing ovation when he stepped on the ice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. I dont let it bother me at all.
Its a few people who made some terrible comments. What can you do? I know what I signed up for. Im a black guy playing a predominantly white sport. Its going to come with the territory.
Id be nave or foolish to think it doesnt exist. It is what it is and its going to be part of life.
One of the most well-liked players in the Capitals locker room, Ward said hell remember the positive response he received following his game-winning goal much longer than he will the negative tweets.
My phone has been crazy with a lot of friends and family, He said. Even people I went to school with in kindergarten found me and left messages for me. The main thing for me was to feel a part of it and to contribute to a game like that.
With his goal, Ward became just the third player in Capitals history to score a playoff series-clinching goal in overtime. Dale Hunter 1988 and Joe Juneau 1998 are the others. .
Its big to be part of any history, he said. I was excited for myself and for the team.
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said its important for athletes to not take criticism from fans personally.
He knows we love him as a person and a hockey player, Ovechkin said. Sometimes fans say good things and sometimes they say bad things. Hes strong, hes funny. Hes right now the Michal Jordan of hockey.
As for racism, Ward said the issue is far too big for a single person to tackle.
Obviously, the battle will always be there, he said. Its just a topic that will always exist.