Keith Ballard and the Plan Going Forward
When the Canucks first traded for Keith Ballard, it was originally thought that he could play alongside Dan Hamhuis on the Canucks top shut-down pair. Fast-forward two years and we have seen a completely different scenario play out.
Trading to acquire Ballard from Florida is one of GM Mike Gillis’ boldest moves to date. He saw a smooth skating defenseman who was good enough for 30+ points per season and some solid defensive play. Now, a lot of people will tell you that the Canucks haven’t seen that player. I support a different point of view. I don’t think Keith Ballard has been given a chance to show us that player.
It’s really tough for a player to rack up points when the forwards he is playing with include an injured Manny Malhotra and the offensively challenged Jannik Hansen. Now I’m not going to sit here and defend everything about Keith Ballard’s play. He hasn’t been great. That being said, I think he’ one of those players who needs the big minutes to play his best.
What I really respect about Keith is his attitude. When he sat out half of the playoffs, did he complain once? No. He supported his teammates and their drive for the Stanley Cup. Keith is the kind of character guy you can bet 29 other teams would love to have in their room. He seems like a real stand-up guy with a lot of heart and passion.
It’s a shame the Canucks are where they are in the standings. If they got some room atop the Northwest Division I would love to see Alain Vigneanult give Ballard a ton of ice-time to prove himself for the playoffs. You can bet that Keith wouldn’t let that opportunity go. He has a great chance at winning here in Vancouver and I don’t think that he’s the kind of player to shy away from a challenge.
As the Canucks make their way to California, you can bet that I will be watching the line-up changes very closely. When I saw Aaron Rome on the power-play ahead of Keith Ballard, I almost threw something at my screen (of course Rome went on to score so thank goodness I didn’t). Why isn’t Ballard being given a chance to succeed?
All I ask of the coaching staff is to give this guy a chance for 5-10 games, especially while Salo is out. If he takes the opportunity and runs with it, great for Keith, great for the team and great for the fans. If he fails to deliver, then keep him on that bottom pairing. It’s that simple.
I’m looking forward to this California swing as we are nearly always treated to some great exciting hockey. I’ll touch base again prior to the Los Angeles game on Thursday.
Thanks for reading.
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