Report: Troy Ward fired

UW men's hockey team is looking for a new top assistant

According to a story in Wednesday's Wisconsin State Journal, University of Wisconsin men's hockey coach Mike Eaves recently fired associate head coach Troy Ward. Citing the fact that Ward has considered taking other jobs, the surprise move was in effect asking him to "find where his passion is", Eaves told the paper.

Ward has been on the short list for other jobs the past two summers. He was a finalist for the athletic director position at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire last summer before taking his name out of consideration. According to the State Journal, Ward interviewed this summer for the head coaching job with the American Hockey League franchise at Norfolk. Eaves told the paper that the possibility of losing Ward to another job was a distraction for the program.

Ward, however, told the paper that he had maintained his passion for his Badger coaching job.

"I was looking at all kinds of options for Troy Ward," Ward told the State Journal. "At no one point in time did I ever feel I was going to jeopardize or hurt our program. I wouldn't have done that."

There is no question that Wisconsin will have a tough time replacing Ward on the bench. He is well regarded for his knowledge of defensive systems and his ability to coach defensive technique and penalty killing. He was also a valued recruiter.

The Badgers led the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in team defense the past two seasons and were the top penalty killing squad in the league last year.

Ward joined Eaves' initial staff at UW for the 2002-03 season and was the associate head coach for the past two campaigns.

Ward originally teamed with Eaves in 1986, when he was an assistant under Eaves at UW-Eau Claire. From '87-90 Ward was the Blugolds head coach. From '90-93 he was an assistant coach at the University of Denver. He then served as the general manager and head coach of the United States Hockey League's Dubuque Fighting Saints before working as an assistant with the International Hockey League's Indianapolis Ice from '95-97.

He was then reunited with Eaves, as the two were assistant coaches the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League from 1997-2000. Ward then spent one year as the head coach of the East Coast Hockey League's Trenton Titans and one year as the senior vice president and director of hockey operations for the ECHL.

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