I have things to say about the Rome suspension, however, I have been fighting a cluster headache since shortly after the game so I'm in no mood to try to write anything that makes sense right now. It will come though. In the mean time kleine_snowdrop sent me a DM last night and I asked her if she wanted to elaborate on it at all because it sounded like a good thought. This is what she came up with:
Keith Ballard has been known to make a mistake or two this season with the Canucks… some have been costly, some not so much. But honestly there is not a defenseman on the roster that hasn’t made at least one. Some have much more leeway with what they can do, or how many they can make before being benched. This isn’t about them and their seemingly endless leeway, not the unbelievably short leash AV keeps Ballard on. This is about the way that Keith Ballard plays hockey.
Sometimes, this last game in Boston for example, the Canucks seems to lack heart. They have emotion, but not the good ones. And they get mechanical and unsettled they try to force things, and it is never pretty. They can’t find their heart. Something is missing that can ramp up the energy-their pride… something. It drives me insane to watch them when they play that way. They just can’t get things going, they know what they need to do, but just can’t do it. There is something missing.
Keith Ballard has it. He might not be the heart and soul of this team, the brains of the team, or whatnot. But he has heart, tons of it. You can see it when he plays. He is always out there doing whatever he needs to do to help his team no matter the role. No matter if, he is called on for 5 minutes or 25 minutes. He plays (or tries to play) whatever role asked of him. Yes, he makes mistakes but he plays with heart. It is more than just playing with heart; he has it all the time. Watch his interviews; he won’t (publically) get down on himself unless he feels he deserves it, his skill set, his playing time, his coach. Maybe he is lacking in confidence lately, and you can tell he is disappointed, he wants to play, knows he can play, but for some reason unknown to most of the world he doesn’t get the chance. I think if he were a lesser man, this would show in interviews, in his interactions with his teammates.
He has grown and learned a lot from his younger days and over the last few seasons, and it shows. He is always the first to congratulate his team. To celebrate with them as teammates, not sulk in the corner. He supports his coaches’ decisions, and his teammates every game. This is why I think he was a perfect pair for Chris Tanev. He is supportive; he can guide, and maybe show Tanev how to be a good teammate even when it probably sucks. You can tell he’s invested when he plays. His hipcheck on McGinn had one purpose, to send a message; you don’t take out his teammates. He was watching, knew who it was, and boom, hipcheck. Message sent.
He might make mistakes, but he plays with heart. Every game. Every shift. No matter how few minutes he plays. Keith Ballard has heart. He plays the game with heart. Call me crazy, but it sure seems like he lives each moment with heart. And playing the game with heart, that seems like a big deal to me… It can take you places, and yeah, there will be mistakes, but sometimes you got to roll with ‘em.
Make sure to Follow Kate on Twitter here and check out here great photoblog Kleine Snowdrop's Journey