Feb 7, 2013, 5:32 PM EST
Today, in that same paper, he’s “finally the player he needs to be for the Canucks.”
Amazing how quickly things change in that city.
Granted, the player Ballard “needs to be” isn’t exactly a great player. According to the Sun, it’s merely a “steady National Hockey League defenseman.”
Since the trade that brought him to Vancouver on June 25, 2010, for a package that included Michael Grabner and a first-round pick that turned into Quinton Howden, the word “steady” would definitely not be used to describe Ballard’s performance.
“Part of the problem is I just was never really sure what I was supposed to do,” he said Wednesday.
“I spent so much time last year on the mental side of things, working with a sports psychologist, because until I came here I never had any adversity in hockey. Going back to five years old, I just went out and played and didn’t worry about anything.”
Before coming to the Canucks, Ballard had played for two NHL teams, Florida and Phoenix. Suffice to say it was easier to fly under the radar in those markets than in Vancouver.
Ballard is still overpaid as a third-pairing defenseman with no points in nine games — the 30-year-old is signed through 2014-15 with a cap hit of $4.2 million.
But his improved play hasn’t gone unrecognized by the coaching staff.
“What he has stopped doing is chasing the game all over the ice,” Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness said. “So now the game comes to him and he’s in control.”
Dec 12, 2013, 11:53 AM EST
Club looking to snap a three-game winless streak.
Dec 12, 2013, 11:29 AM EST
File under “things that happen when a team is co-owned by fierce competitors.”
Dec 12, 2013, 10:50 AM EST
Bit of a shakeup in Ottawa.
Dec 12, 2013, 10:39 AM EST
He was injured on a hit by fellow Tampa Bay prospect Adam Erne.
Dec 12, 2013, 10:20 AM EST
He could be back in the lineup next week.
Dec 12, 2013, 9:12 AM EST
They’ve dug themselves a big hole early on.
Dec 12, 2013, 8:10 AM EST
That and all the links you need to start the day.
Dec 12, 2013, 7:15 AM EST
Perhaps up to $71 million for next season.
Dec 12, 2013, 1:30 AM EST
Some kind of pace he’s on.
Dec 12, 2013, 12:54 AM EST
Dropped third straight on Tuesday.
Dec 12, 2013, 12:28 AM EST
Couple of beauties.
Dec 12, 2013, 12:04 AM EST
Taking positives, despite result.
Dec 11, 2013, 11:27 PM EST
Interesting comment to make.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:59 PM EST
Turned for the Flyers in second period, got worse from there.
Dec 11, 2013, 10:26 PM EST
Dec 11, 2013, 9:43 PM EST
That was fast.
Dec 11, 2013, 9:25 PM EST
Dec 11, 2013, 9:07 PM EST
Not a big deal to him, though.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:43 PM EST
Rivalry Night starts with a bang.
Dec 11, 2013, 8:07 PM EST
“I’m sure it’s going to be up there. It’s going to be steep.”
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 6
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 34
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 75
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 32
- Report: Isles coach Capuano not seen as problem 11
- Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Flyers challenge top-ranked Blackhawks 18
- Update: Ryan Callahan out 4-6 weeks with MCL sprain 15
- Four goals: Ovechkin wills Caps to stunning shootout win vs. Bolts 63
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (182)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)