Ward back on ice after punch

Updated: May 12, 2009, 9:37 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

RALEIGH, N.C. -- A punch to the face didn't keep Aaron Ward off the ice. But he and the man who hit him, Carolina's Scott Walker, don't see eye to eye on what happened.

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The Boston Bruins defenseman said he expected to play in Tuesday night's Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals and he was indeed on the ice. He was punched by Walker two nights earlier during a late-game dustup that drew a $2,500 fine -- but no suspension -- for the Hurricanes forward.

Ward sported a shiner around his left eye while taking part in the Bruins' morning skate. Afterward, he made his first public comments about the incident, calling Walker's explanation that the two had engaged in a fight "a convenient story that the NHL accepted."

"It's a joke. It's honestly a joke," Ward told The Boston Globe about the situation. He also told the newspaper he had not spoken to league disciplinarian Colin Campbell about the incident.

Walker apologized on Tuesday but defended his motivation.

"I feel we were going to be fighting," Walker said, according to NHL.com. "I went over there and pushed him, I thought he punched me and I dropped my gloves and swung. Obviously I don't feel good about -- you never want to see anybody get hurt or go down like that. For that I'm sorry. I've been on the other end where you think nothing's happening and you get punched. So I think you have to defend yourself. It's not something I'm proud of."

Walker grew defensive while speaking with the media on Tuesday.

"[It's] incriminating in that if you look at just the still shots, yeah, it looks bad," he said, according to the Web site. "But if you watch the whole thing and if you've ever been in a fight like I imagine not many of you have ever been from the looks of you -- and, or not very good ones -- that's my point. I didn't mean to go out there and say 'I'm going to go punch this guy without his gloves off.' That's not my intent. In the same sense, it's a game and a battle and things happen so quick out there."

But Ward said he neither saw nor exchanged words with Walker before being hit.

"I don't remember a single word being said," Ward told the Globe. "I was looking at Matt Cullen. The moment I saw his right hand was when it was about a foot away from my face."

A team doctor advised Ward to wear a shield after seeing "something" on an X-ray, he told the newspaper.

"I haven't worn one in 16 years," Ward told the Globe. "I'm not going to start now."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.