Joel Ward was born February 21, 1980 in Toronto, Ontario. Undrafted, Ward honed his skills with the University of Prince Edward Island.
A tenacious forechecker, Ward collected 152 points over four years with the OHL's Owen Sound Attack. He would go on to attend the University of Prince Edward Island where he would spend four years and collect 135 points with the club. Although Ward was not drafted, the Minnesota Wild signed the free agent to a one-year contract on September 27, 2006. Ward's first professional season would be spent with the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. The following season he would return to the Houston line-up before making his NHL debut with the Wild on December 16, 2006.
A late bloomer, Ward began to emerge as a solid two-way player for the Predators. In 2008-2009 he potted a career best 17 goals and followed that up 13 the following season while continuing his solid defensive play.
In the summer of 2011, after three successful seasons in Nashville, Ward found himself an unrestricted free agent. He signed a four-year deal with the Washington Capitals reportedly worth $12 million.
At the conclusions of Ward's four years in Washington, he signed a three year contract with the San Jose Sharks as an unrestricted free agent on July 3, 2015.
Ward would appear in 79 games for the Sharks during the 2015-16 season, reaching the 20-goal plateau for the second time in his career and adding 22 assists for 43 points.