The Washington Times - November 16, 2011, 10:59AM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. | Joel Ward didn’t spend a decade with the Nashville Predators. He wasn’t the captain there and he wasn’t part of a Stanley Cup-winning team.

Still, during the first TV timeout Tuesday, the video board at Bridgestone Arena featured a tribute to Ward, who was influential in the Nashville community. Ward joined the “Big Brother” program and still communicates with now ninth-grader Malik Johnson of the LEAD Academy.

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“It was something I wanted to do to give back to Nashville,” Ward said earlier in the week. “They were very supportive of me, and I thought maybe it was a way I could help an individual a little bit.”

Ward talked about visiting Johnson during his time in Nashville and about the kid’s excitement that he now plays with Alex Ovechkin.

He didn’t see the tribute video and standing ovation coming.

It caught me off-guard,” Ward said after the Capitals’ 3-1 loss. “I was really appreciative of that and the support here I had. It’s definitely a place close, dear to me.”

As the cheers were raining down, Ward raised his stick to salute the fans.