Joel Ward’s fourth head coach in four seasons happens to be an old friend, so when the forward arrived at the team’s practice facility for its annual offseason blood drive on Saturday afternoon, he came as the unofficial liaison for Barry Trotz, the player who best knows what makes the new bench boss tick.

“I think now I’ve got to tell some guys a few things,” Ward said, laughing, even though he already had. “It’s definitely been a good relationship in the past and hopefully keep that going. Definitely I can always teach a few guys some of the tendencies and some of the things that we’ve done back in Nashville that I’m sure he’ll carry over.”

Before signing a four-year deal with the Capitals in 2011, Ward cracked into the NHL with the Nashville Predators, spending three full seasons under Trotz, who was at the time the only head coach in franchise history and a local institution for the small-market squad. Sure, he had spent 11 games with the Minnesota Wild in 2006-07, but Trotz and the Predators saw something special in a 28-year-old rookie.