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.”
Feb 1, 2015, 1:41 AM EST
Got a little help, too. Quick whistle on Toews chances.
Feb 1, 2015, 12:55 AM EST
Stopped 31 of 32 shots for the win.
Feb 1, 2015, 12:07 AM EST
No call. Got a little testy out there after that hit.
Jan 31, 2015, 11:17 PM EST
Boston maintaining their hold on a Wild Card spot.
Jan 31, 2015, 10:23 PM EST
Maybe February will be better?
Jan 31, 2015, 9:44 PM EST
Battle of Alberta isn’t what it used to be.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:57 PM EST
Scary moment, but he has stayed in the game.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:27 PM EST
Goal No. 715 of his career.
Jan 31, 2015, 8:14 PM EST
Short-handed, too! *Thumbs up*
Jan 31, 2015, 7:43 PM EST
Starting Sunday, these teams will play each other three times in 16 days.
Jan 31, 2015, 7:16 PM EST
Obviously not smart.
Jan 31, 2015, 6:46 PM EST
Allowed five goals on 20 shots.
Jan 31, 2015, 6:19 PM EST
Two losses in a row for the Islanders.
Jan 31, 2015, 5:53 PM EST
Was put on waivers, cleared, and sent to the minors this week.
Jan 31, 2015, 5:22 PM EST
Took part in team skate on Saturday.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:47 PM EST
Detroit is forcing itself into the Stanley Cup conversation.
Jan 31, 2015, 4:08 PM EST
Montreal has put pressure on Tampa Bay in the battle for the Eastern Conference lead.
Jan 31, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
He has a degenerative back injury that might lead to career-ending surgery.
Jan 31, 2015, 1:56 PM EST
He gave up five goals against them on Jan. 10.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:57 PM EST
Meanwhile Philadelphia will try to win its fourth straight game.
- Leafs scoring slump hits historical low 11
- Video: Rangers’ Lundqvist takes puck to the neck 3
- Zamboni driver arrested for DUI, allegedly cleaned ice surface while drunk 13
- Mike Richards trying to make the best of being sent to the AHL 9
- Price leads Habs past Caps with second straight shutout 8
- Report: Rob Blake would be Brendan Shanahan’s first choice to replace Dave Nonis 5
- Bettman would be ‘kicking and screaming’ before NHL jerseys have ads 27
- Comparing the records of all 30 teams in the last two months 61
- Lightning ride Paquette’s first hat trick to Atlantic lead 8
- Price wins goalie duel vs. Lundqvist as Habs edge Rangers 4