Feb 7, 2013, 5:32 PM EDT
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.”
Aug 20, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
And it was all The Great One’s idea.
Aug 20, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
He can be an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Aug 20, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT
Recovery from offseason wrist surgery put things in doubt.
Aug 20, 2014, 7:55 PM EDT
He missed most of last season with a torn ACL.
Aug 20, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT
Giroux and Voracek will need someone new to run with them.
Aug 20, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT
Patrick Marleau can coach him through it.
Aug 20, 2014, 3:59 PM EDT
It’s not as good to be the worst anymore.
Aug 20, 2014, 2:54 PM EDT
No real surprise here.
Aug 20, 2014, 1:55 PM EDT
How will he handle the weight of expectation?
Aug 20, 2014, 1:28 PM EDT
Another dramatic development.
Aug 20, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT
“I’m confident in myself and confident I can get back to where I used to be.”
Aug 20, 2014, 11:18 AM EDT
He’ll be reunited with former Boston College teammate Chris Kreider in New York.
Aug 20, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT
The college star could push to make Philly’s blue line right away.
Aug 20, 2014, 10:01 AM EDT
And assigned to a U.S. District Judge in Minnesota.
Aug 20, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
It’s OK Alex, Claude Noel is gone now.
Aug 20, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They hope to improve on their first round loss to the Rangers.
Aug 19, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
It’s been a good summer in Dallas.
Aug 19, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Yeah, we don’t get it either.
Aug 19, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
He’s not going out of his way for it, however.
Aug 19, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT
You earn a lot of votes winning a Stanley Cup.
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