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Keith Ballard back in Canucks lineup, greeted by practical jokers upon return

Nov 17, 2010, 2:13 PM EDT

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Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard has been out of the team’s lineup the last few games for reasons really only known to head coach Alain Vigneault. Ballard’s been healthy but he’s been kept out of the lineup in favor of the likes of Aaron Rome. If you think that Ballard’s benching hasn’t been noticed by fans in Vancouver… You’d be very wrong.

Also taking notice of Ballard’s absence are his teammates who decided to greet Ballard’s return to action in a way that makes you think it was an idea borne from bloggers themselves. Gordon McIntyre of The White Towel shares the Canucks practical joke on Ballard that proves “tough love” has a few meanings.

In honour of Keith Ballard rejoining the lineup for a game tonight, after four healthy scratches in a row, one of his teammates had a little fun at the defenceman’s expense.

On the wall in the visitors room there often is taped a sheet for players to sign up for tickets for friends or family in the road city.

Among the handful of requests for tickets to tonight’s game, someone wrote K. Ballard in the ‘donor’ column and T. Vokoun under ‘recipient.’

“I think it’s hilarious,” Ballard said after the morning skate.

If you’re missing out on the reference of what’s going on here, think back to last November when Ballard swung his stick in frustration and accidentally cracked Tomas Vokoun in the head after being burned for a goal against. Despite playing in Florida at the time, this moment was one of the lowest of Ballard’s career, at least until he scored into his own goal later in the season anyhow.

As for who the responsible party is for the tickets, Ballard’s got a short list of suspects that makes a lot of sense.

“I have a couple of names in mind,” he said.

Burrows?

“That’s one of them.”

Bieksa?

“That’s another.”

Kesler?

“And another.”

At the very least, Roberto Luongo knew better than to potentially agitate the goalie-swinging Ballard. Well played, Roberto.

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