There's shouldering the blame for a disappointing season, and then there's Joel Ward.
The Sharks announced Friday that the 36 year old Ward underwent successful optional shoulder surgery and should be ready for the 2017-18 season. From the horse's mouth:
Ward was seen with his right arm in a sling at the Oakland Coliseum Thursday night, prior to which the organization had given little or no indication that Ward's health status was in doubt.
Depending on how long Ward had been laboring under this mystery malady, it could go a little ways towards explaining what was a down season for the winger, a campaign that saw him post 29 points, his lowest in a full season since 2011-12, and a steep drop from his 43 points in 2015-16.
Ward may seem like a footnote on the Sharks’ laundry list of injuries this year, but he was a key cog in the team's run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2016, and a healthy Ward in 2017-18 could make quite a difference.