Ward detours to Boston

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:07 AM ET

It was simply too good of an opportunity for Geoff Ward to pass up - NHL job offers don't come along very often.

So when Claude Julien asked Ward to be a member of his coaching staff with the Boston Bruins, he promptly stepped down and took the offer.

"Claude Julien and myself have worked together in the past," said Ward.

Ward had been hired by the Oilers in May to be the head coach of the Oilers exclusive AHL affiliate, the Springfield (Mass.) Falcons.

"About two weeks ago, the Bruins approached the Oilers for permission to talk to me.

"It came as a surprise to me, my whole focus coming back from Germany was Springfield. Last week I was actually down there for some meetings, getting ready for training camp and those kinds of things. To me this came out of the blue."

Ward, who had coached the Edmonton Roadrunners during the lockout season, was brought back by the Oilers organization after spending last season in Europe.

"Geoff was a valuable member of our organization and contributed greatly in the development of our young players," said Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe in a statement. "With Geoff leaving the Oilers for his first NHL coaching post, opportunity knocks for someone new in our organization."

Kelly Buchberger, who spent last season as an Oilers development coach, comes to mind as a possibility.

Regardless, it's the second time the Oilers have lost a staff member to another NHL team. Earlier this year assistant general manager Scott Howson left to take over the GM reins of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"As tough as it was to leave the Oilers - because they've just been fantastic to me - I felt the opportunity was very attractive for a couple of reasons," Ward said. "No. 1, it is the NHL and for a guy like me, who didn't play professional hockey, you wonder if you pass something like this up, if you're ever going to get another opportunity.

"At the same time, it's with a guy (Julien) that I have a history with. We know each other, we're comfortable with each other. So outside of having a job with the Oilers up top, it was probably the most seamless transition into the National Hockey League that I could get."

The two worked together in Hamilton for two and-a-half seasons before Julien was appointed the head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. The two also worked together with the Canadian World Junior team and the national Under-18 team.

"Geoff's a guy who knows me well, and we read off of each other extremely well," Julien said.

Ward actually took over as head coach of the Bulldogs when Julien left to coach the Canadiens in January 2003. He led the team to the Calder Cup final, losing in seven games to the Houston Aeros.

This is his first job at the NHL level.

"It is exciting," Ward said. "Everybody has aspirations to get to the National Hockey League from the time they strap skates on at three years old. It is exciting, but I'm just trying to treat it as a new challenge."


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