Former Habs coach, Joel Ward drop by UPEI fundraiser

Jason Malloy
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Washington Capitals right wing Joel Ward, centre, is congratulated by teammates Karl Alzner and John Carlson after his goal against the Boston Bruins during overtime of Game 7 of an NHL Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Boston on Wednesday.

Building a winning hockey team is much like developing a successful business, says a former NHL coach.

Jacques Martin said success in both is dependent on the people within the organizations.

“It’s a business of human beings,” he said Thursday night in Charlottetown. “That’s what the difference is between the top teams and the teams that struggle at the bottom.”

Martin, who was fired this season as Montreal Canadiens head coach, was the guest speaker last week at the UPEI Panthers hockey teams’ fundraising dinner.

“If you have a staff that you have to . . . motivate everyday at some point in time they’re not going to do the job,” he said. “You need to have people that are self-motivated.”

He spoke about being part of building hockey teams, including the Quebec Nordiques and the 1992 Canadian Olympic team.

An estimated 350 people attended the fundraiser, including current and former players, fans and supporters.

Goaltender Mark Guggenberger, who manned the Panthers’ crease in 2010-11, was back in town after completing his first professional season with the Texas Brahmas of the Central Hockey League. He was named the league’s top goalie and rookie of the year.

He was one of many hockey players with Island connections at the event, but the evening’s biggest applause was reserved for former Panther and current Washington Capital Joel Ward.

“I can remember my first day here . . . coming on the campus and seeing the old barn and now to see where I am at today, it’s been an unbelievable experience,” the sociology graduate said before the dinner.

“The people I met here are unbelievable. It was one of the best four years of my life.”

Ward scored the Game 7 overtime winner for the Capitals in the opening round of this year’s playoffs against Boston.

Following the heroics racial comments were made against the black hockey player on social media sites.

“Racism is a topic that I think will be around forever. Some people are just cruel,” Ward said. “It was a good eye-opener for a lot of people to see it does exist.”

His off-season will primarily be spent catching up with friends and family from his home in Toronto.

The Friends of UPEI Hockey organized Thursday’s night event.

“They basically do it for the love of our program and without them . . . we would not be able to compete at the level we do,” said coach Forbes MacPherson.

A final figure on how much was raised was not available Friday.

Organizations: Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Quebec Nordiques Texas Brahmas Central Hockey League Capitals

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Boston, Toronto.The Friends

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