May 10, 2015

Jimmy Ward

A junior star in Kenora and senior sensation in Fort William, Jimmy Ward became a mainstay in Montreal in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s. He played 11 seasons with the Montreal Maroons before finishing his career with the Montreal Canadiens.

Ward, a very popular, curly haired right winger who never smoked or drank, was signed by the Montreal Maroons in 1927-28 after a successful amateur career. He started on a line with Hooley Smith and Nels Stewart and was very prominent in the final playoffs of 1928, despite a cut foot.

By 1931-32 the Maroons broke up their fabled  'S' line and restructured their team with Ward, Hooley Smith and Baldy Northcott - the "Red Line" - for the next four seasons. Ward won his only Stanley Cup championship in 1934-35, coming back from a serious concussion courtesy of a clean Eddie Shore bodycheck.

Ward was not one to miss many games. In his entire 11 year career with the Maroons he missed only 21 games. He was one of the league's fastest skaters despite being one of the bigger players of his era. He had a strong shot, and was a consistent scorer. Only twice did he fail to reach double digits in goals scored. Remember, this was the era of 48 game schedules where superstar players were totalling just 20 goals.

Ward's longevity with the Maroons makes him the answer to some interesting trivia questions as he is the Maroons' all time leader in games played (491), and is 2nd in goals (143), assists (124) and points (267). This despite being a two way forward - not always expected in that era - and tasked with skating against the top left wingers in the league.

When the Maroons folded after 1937-38, he signed with the Montreal Canadiens, but suffered a shoulder injury in February of 1939 and his NHL career was over. He spent a season in the minor leagues in New Haven as a player-coach before a bad back forced him to hang up the blades.

Ward reportedly got into the soft drink business late in his career, but World War II rations on sugar forced him to fold his emerging beverage business.

Jimmy Ward's son, Pete Ward, played nine seasons of Major League Baseball, most notably with the Chicago White Sox. Pete was born in Montreal but grew up Oregon where his dad coached professional and amateur teams for many years.

Jimmy Ward passed away in Portland on November 15th, 1990.

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