Sunday, May 29, 2011

Win It For Luc

3 years ago today Luc Bourdon was taken from this world, far to early in a horrific motorcycle accident near his home town of Shippagan New Brunswick. He had a very promising future ahead of him on the Canucks, and even Rick Bowness said in an interview on friday that he believes, if Luc was still here, he would be on this team. I have a son who was born  9 months after Luc died, and my son has his name as one of his middle names.

Cam Charron wrote a great piece about Luc here, I highly suggest checking it out, it's a very good read.

This is the tribute the Canucks did for Luc at the beginning of the season after he died, I still can not watch it, or even think about it without tearing up big time

I have talked to his girlfriend a couple times and she is doing great, continuing on in medical school as she says Luc would of wanted her to. One of his best friends and teammates Alex Burrows says that Luc is still a huge inspiration to him, and I am honestly shocked that people don't know that Burrows bow and arrow goal celebration is in memory of Luc. I also had to shake my head when after Burrows scored the OT winner to beat the Blackhawks and I posted a picture of Luc simply saying 'this', people thought they had to point out that it was a picture of Bourdon not Burrows. Yes, I know that, think about it!

As we have all heard over the past few days The Canucks may not be winning it for Manny, they may be doing it WITH that leaves one thing now....Lets hope they can win it for Luc.

When he was a kid, he'd be up at five
Take shots till eight, make the thing drive
Out after school, back on ice
That was his life, he was gonna play in the Big League
The Big League

Not many ways out of this cold northern town
You work in the mill and get laid in the ground
If you're gonna jump it will be with the game
Real fast and tough is the only clear lane to the Big League

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead
The Big League

All the right moves when he turned eighteen
Scholarship and school on a big U.S. team
Out with his girl near Lake McClean
Hit a truck doing seventy in the wrong lane
To the Big League

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead

Never can tell what might come down
Never can tell how much you get
Just don't know, no you never can tell

Sometimes at night I can hear the ice crack
It sounds like thunder and it rips through my back
Sometimes in the morning I still hear the sound
Ice meets metal...
"Can't you drive me down to the Big League?"

My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna turn some heads
My boy's gonna play in the Big League
My boy's gonna knock 'em dead

Never can tell what might come down
Never can tell when you might check out
Just don't know, no you never can tell
So do right to others like you do to yourself
In the Big League

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Damn Crazy Old Ladies

Yesterday I saw Bob Mckenzie tweet that the only 2 players he could recently remember being fined for water bottle incidents were Tie Domi and Keith Ballard. I remembered the Tie Domi one but not the Ballard one, so I did a quick google search and came up with nothing. Didn't think much more of it and went on with my day. Then today I came across this article from Ian Walker  this afternoon and couldn't stop laughing.

Mild-mannered Ballard harbours a wet and wild past

 Defenceman recalls dousing a heckler with water in Dallas in 2007 and $1,000 fine that followed
If there was one Vancouver Canuck you'd pick to be the first to help an old lady across the street, it would have to be Keith Ballard.
Quiet. Unassuming. Polite . Boy, did we have the 28-year-old defenceman pegged all wrong.
Ballard was once fined $1,000 for spraying an elderly female fan with water during a game in 2007.
His altercation with the fairer sex was a hot topic and resulted in a few laughs as he recalled the incident for teammates and coaches looking for the backstory during the Canucks practice at Rogers Arena on Friday.
"Everyone's been asking about it today," asked a perplexed Ballard, following the team's 45-minute skate.
"Now you. What's behind this, anyway?"
Well, first, Boston Bruins forward Nathan Horton made headlines earlier this week for squirting a Tampa Bay fan with water at the end of the Lightning's 5-2 win on Wednesday to force a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference final.
Second, Ballard and Tie Domi are the only players in recent memory who were fined for doing the same thing. And third, there's another five games before the start of the Stanley Cup final and we're scratching the bottom of the barrel for story ideas, so just humour us, Keith.
"It was this crazy older lady in Dallas and she pissed me off," said Ballard.
"Everyone who plays the game probably knows who she is. She sits behind the penalty box she has the dry erase board and makes signs and she's just annoying -much like I'm sure guys who come into our building think the Green Men are.
"Every rink has those people. She was just chirping me the whole time . so I just squirted her with a water bottle that was sitting there. The next day I got a call from the league saying, 'You can't do that.'" Ballard, like Domi six years before him, was fined $1,000 for his actions.
"I didn't think it was that big a deal, it was only water, but I understand, you can't do that to fans," he said.
"I think all of us, whether we're getting heckled by them or they're cheering for us, we all appreciate fans and realize where the game would be without them.
"I was a little younger and more easily fired up back then. I think I was just upset because I had taken a penalty."
That's not to say he hasn't been tempted in the four years since.
"I think everyone get's the urge now and again, I've just never acted on it," he said with a laugh.
"You get some fans and they're pretty knowledgeable on what they're saying and pretty ruthless. I try not to take it too personal, but you never know, if you're not in the mood for something."
So much for first impressions.

 I was ok with the whole thing, didn't think anything bad of the story but the "It was this crazy older lady in Dallas and she pissed me off" line got me. I laughed for a good 10 minutes after reading it. It's priceless.  There's no need to add any of my nonsense to it all, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

..............and hope if I ever meet Keith Ballard there are no water bottles around.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How The West Was Won

Ok imagine this, I'm sitting in a darkened house, my 2 and 3 year old kids are fast asleep, my boyfriend is asleep on the couch beside where I'm sitting. I'm watching the game on my laptop because the feed was 8 seconds ahead of my TV feed, headphones on so I don't disturb anyone. Kevin Bieksa scores....what do I do? There's a moment of wanting to jump up and scream, a moment of hesitation because everyone in my house is asleep. So what did I do? I fist pumped into the air and let the water I had just tried to drink milliseconds before the goal dribble out of my mouth. Yup, not the prettiest and I would have and still would give just about anything to be in Vancouver right now and for the next 2 weeks. I thought my biggest regret was not making it back to Vancouver for the Olympics, but that is nothing compared to how badly I wish I was in Vancouver right now.  The scariest part is I don't think it has totally set in yet that the Canucks have made it to The Stanley Cup Finals, I think I still may be in a bit of shock about it all.

Last night this clip from the movie Hardball kept playing over and over in my head, (because you know....I am so a little black kid playing baseball)

Anyway, I've done it the last 2 rounds so I'll do it again. To any new readers, I am very aware they will never read this, it's just my way of getting my thoughts out.

Dear Keith Ballard,
Keith, Darling, we need to have a talk. For my own sanity, and the sanity of all your fans NEVER...EVER..again try to block or grab the puck with your hand when you are in front of your own net. I seriously face palmed myself on that goal last night, I wouldn't be surprised if I have a hand mark on my face today, I haven't looked in a mirror yet. I guess at least this time you didn't throw it into your own net, just deflected it. With that bit of crap out of the way, I am so excited and happy that you got to play in that game last night and be on the ice for the celebration. I think I saw you dancing in the corner of one shot, or maybe you were tripping over the stupid confetti crap but I'm hoping someone, somewhere has a clip of it. The t-shirts you guys got are grey, I guess that's a good thing since you apparently like grey shirts so much.

Dear Baby Tanev,
How the hell does it feel? I thought you had a crazy time when, last year you were undrafted, playing college hockey and then less then a year later you were part of the top 6 uninjured defencemen for the second half  of the regular season for the Canucks. Then after (un)fortunate injuries to Christian Ehrhoff and Aaron Rome you get called up and play in 2 round 3 playoff games. This must be unreal for you, I was almost more excited for you last night then Ballard, and that says a lot. For the record, I will probably always call you 'baby' Tanev, even when..or lose that little baby face you have.

Dear  Mason Raymond,
Are you at the dentist yet? I keep getting the most disgusting scared look on my face when I look at this picture.  I'm sure there was no pain last night, but that must be pretty sore today, wow. Nice to see you are finally getting some facial hair, I think my grandma still has more though.

Dear Kevin Bieksa,
Holy crap dude, I don't think there are even words to describe how I feel about you right now. I'll own up to it, I was calling for a Bieksa trade 9-10 months ago. Am I ever glad that didn't happen. I told my friend Paul before game 1 that you would be 'the guy' this series, I never dreamed just how true that would be.

Dear Luc Bourdon,
Once again, Thank you.

And now onto some others, I have no idea where my mind will be in approximately 2 weeks time, either way I doubt I'll get this out so I'll do it now. To some of the, somewhat , behind the scenes crew in The Canucks Organization

Dear Nicole Van Zanten (aka @VanCanucks),
I am so glad I finally caved and signed up for twitter last summer. The experience has been amazing and the Canucks twitter is the most interactive I've seen of any NHL team. You are rocking it, it's been a huge help with keeping up to date since I am a Canucks fan stuck in Edmonton. Thank you for all your hard work so far, and for everything still to come. If I ever get out to Vancouver in the near future I would love to buy you a coffee or something.

Dear Derek Jory (aka @Canucksgame),
You, my darling, are a thing of beauty. Not only do you keep me up to date when I  have been unable to watch games, you have me laughing like a crazy woman the whole time. I can be in the worst mood ever, and I just have to look at a @canucksgame tweet, or something posted on Fort Nucks and I'm usually in tears laughing.  You've also given me some great material over the season in my unintended apparent goal of making fun of Keith Ballard in every way possible with this blog.

Dear Tina Rogers (aka @tinarogers)
Thank you so much for sending me those playoff towels and that t-shirt. You made me day- you made my month. I usually have to beg people for months to get anything sent this way, whether from the team store or just Canucks stuff in general. It's been tough sitting here in Edmonton  and watching everything going on in Vancouver, so thanks for sending me a little part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs celebration. Would love to thank you in person whenever I manage to get out to Vancouver again.

Lastly, to my main reporter man....

Dear Ian Walker (aka @walkerbigtalker)
You are the man. I can not express how much appreciation I have for you, obviously for running the little piece on my findings about Ballard inability to dress himself properly but for everything else you do to. As I have mentioned to you before, I love the different approach you take with what you write. You have managed to make me like  and even shed a tear for a few players who, before I read your articles, all I wanted to do was slap. As I've said to the others being able to read what  you write helps me keep up to date even though I am a province away from my team. I am excited for what these next 2 weeks hold and what you will be talking about.

The best bloggers around....

Dear Harrison Mooney, Daniel Wagner, and Qris Johnson (aka Pass It To Bulis),
You guys rock my socks. Thank you for Watching every game, and reporting about each accurately and hilariously.  My little blog definitely looks up to your giant blog. When my son was in the hospital in February one of the things I was most pissed off about was the fact I couldn't get an internet connection in the hospital to read your 'I Watched This Game' about the games I missed.

Anyway, this may look like I'm writing this because something is over and done but as I said above this is not the case. In approximately 2 weeks, I am going to have crazy thoughts, either good or bad so I wanted to make sure I got these thank you's out of the way before then.

I promise to stop rambling soon but there is one last item of business. This is probably where any credibility I may have built up over the last 5 months of having this blog, gets shot straight out the window. However, I am female, but with the dirty mind of a male, so there is absolutely no way for me to go at this in an appropriate manner. Last night while everything was starting to settle down a bit after the win @kleine_snowdrop dropped this bomb in my inbox.

Like I said, no appropriate way to go at this picture, but it had to be shared because I laughed for a good 5 minutes.  I have no problem admitting that I do find Keith Ballard good looking, it's a natural thing and if you're going to look at me the wrong way for it, so be it.  People make jokes to me all the time regarding him and I usually make inappropriate comments right back. I think most of the time people are looking for a reaction out of me, so I give it to them. I don't really mean any of it, it's just how I am and the people who know  me and talk to me on a regular basis know that. Know my actual hockey knowledge comes first. Anyway,  I put this picture on facebook last night, going about my marry inappropriate way and I had to laugh this morning because the people to comment to me about it were my very own mom, and my Aunt. Both oblivious to where I went with it, at least at first.

Thank you to every single 1..or maybe the 1 person who actually made it through all this rambling. I'm still riding my high from the game last night. I am extremely excited for what is to come, and extremely excited to be along for the ride with everyone. Lets get 'er done.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This and That

  • I looked at the Canucks app on my blackberry today and remembered something. It was a few hours before game 3 that I tweeted that I had finally taken Keith Ballard off the 'player pulse' because I was tired of seeing nothing happening. I also tweeted that I laughed at people who still held out hope that a miracle would happen and Ballard would play. I hadn't given up on *him* but rather AV ever thinking it would be a good idea to play him. Crazy how fast things can change eh? I have Kevin Bieksa on my player pulse now, and I'm tempted to change it back to Ballard, but I may just leave it. I am, however, rocking my Ballard shirt for the first time in weeks.
  • This quote in Ben Kuzma's article today made me tear up (there's a reason I thanked Luc in my post after game 7 of the Chicago series)
"He's still part of my life and I think about him a lot," Burrows said of the fallen 10th overall pick in the 2005 entry draft. "I've learned a lot with Luc's accident to know when you're on the verge of accomplishing something to give it all you've got. He'd say: 'Go get it. It's your turn to shine.' "
  • All this talk on the team1040 and such over what the Canucks will do if they win tonight is annoying me. Everyone is getting way to far ahead of themselves. Do I think they can do it? yes. Do I know they will do it? no. Am I so nervous I feel like my lunch is going to come back up? yes. 
  • On that note, if the Canucks get to the Finals I may try to plan a get together with some Canucks fans for  a weekend game at Boston Pizza, or somewhere here in Edmonton. I'm tired of watching games alone. 
  • Want to Watch Ballard's Hipcheck on McGinn over and over? Pass It To Bulis tweeted an easy way to do so  here
  •  Quote of the day  "I think Chris and I did what was asked of us and we'll do the same thing tonight." - Keith Ballard. 
  • Go read this - " Ballard Knows The Importance  of Being a Good Teammate..."
    •  Finally, who doesn't love some one on one with John Shorthouse?!?

    Monday, May 23, 2011


    Yesterdays game was the oddest thing I've ever watched in terms of penalties, thankfully the Canucks special teams were able to light it up. Know what else lit me up?..this:

    That was a thing of beauty, one of the best I've seen I think. I want to marry it but I've been informed that Daniel over at PITB is already doing that. Best part of all it was on McGinn, but I guess if it weren't for him Ballard wouldn't even have been playing.

    Everyone laughed at me on Saturday when I called the Ballard/Tanev pairing, saying they would never put Tanev in over Andrew Alberts. Im sorry, has everyone not been confused about Rome in over Ballard? it's the common sense in the none common sense world of Alain Vigneault decisions.  Ballard and Tanev played great together during the season, so why not? They both looked good considering it was Tanev's first playoff game and Ballard's first since game 2 in the Nashville series.  Imagine what Tanev's going to be like in a couple years with some experience under his belt and some meat on his bones? I'm excited!

    I hate to wish injury upon a person, but I do kind of hope Ehrhoff and Rome are out for a few more games, Ballard will hopefully  get better with more games played and I want to see what he can do.

    Saturday, May 21, 2011

    Ballard News

    Before yesterdays game I asked Derek Jory to mention something about Ballard so that we knew he was alive. DJ reported that Ballard bought a grey shirt on Thursday night, which Ballard says he already has 30 of. This only means one thing, the length of his pants are not the only problem he has with dressing himself. Don't be afraid of Colour, Keith.

    In all seriousness it's pretty sad that was the biggest/only piece of news we have really heard about Ballard in the past few days. Todays news after seeing Rome hit and crumple into a ball last night? well, Farhan Lalji says that when he was asked if he has the confidence of his coach, Ballard responded with "I don't know". Thats sad, but in the good news department when AV was asked about him today he said ' He's got an opportunity probably tomorrow to step in'. I hope so, and I hope he has a huge game. Play Me That Ballard.

    Lastly, lets all collectively awwwww at this picture k?

    I hope tomorrow I am able to write something about how great of a game Ballard had, but really at this point it's hard to try to be positive about it. AV will probably find a reason to play someone else. 

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    Ramble Ramble

    Funny story. Yesterday I was at West Edmonton Mall with my daughter (while were at it, I'd much rather Metrotown) and we were watching people skate at the rink thats in the mall. One guy tried to stop and fell down, my 3 year old looks at me, back at him and says ' Mommy, That's Keith Ballard". I had to ask her to repeat herself twice because it was so funny. Kind of sad to, actually. 

    Every once in awhile I look through the stats for my blog and there is a page that shows what search terms people type into google and find my blog by. Some of them are funny, some are creepy, some are serious questions. I'm going to  answer some, or try to.

    Why Does AV hate Ballard?/why isn't Ballard playing?
    nobody but AV knows this, you can google as much as you want  but you're not going to find an answer right now.

    Is Keith Ballard ever going to play again?
    sure he will, hopefully in Vancouver but if not there are many other teams that could use a defenceman like him. 

    Is Ballard still injured?
    Nobody knows for sure, speculation is out there for sure.

    What does Keith Ballard spend his money on?
    Hookers and blow, obviously. Ok not really. I'm pretty sure he spends his money on the same things we do, rent, food, bills, mortgage, dog know, normal life stuff.  

    Keith Ballards dog?
    's name is George?.....hes all man and a Twins fan. I have watched the Twins play twice this week and think it's time George picks a new team.

    Where does Keith Ballard live?( see, creepy)
    He lives in AV's dog house during the season in Vancouver, BC. In the off season he lives somewhere in Minnesota, I believe. Next season  I hope he lives in Vancouver, in his own house, not AV's dog house.

    Does Keith Ballard have a girlfriend?
    He is married and has a daughter who I believe turns 1 this month. Get lost bunnies, you're not welcome here.

    Keith Ballard's Twitter/Facebook
    He doesn't have a twitter account. He should, but he doesn't. If he does have a facebook it is private for family and friends.

    Is Jeff Tambellini divorced?
    I don't think he's even married, but I'm not sure. Not quite sure  how this question lead somebody to this blog.

    No joke those are just some of the search terms people type into google and end up looking somewhere on my blog. There are more but we already know all about Ballard's pants, and ' why isn't Ballard playing' can be asked many different ways, up to 100-200 times a day :(.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011

    Guest Post

    Over the past few months I've met some great people thanks to a mutual appreciation for Keith Ballard. I recently asked if anybody would like to do a guest post, This is the first of hopefully more to come.

    What is it about Keith Ballard?  Personally, I think it’s the hipchecks.  I’ll confess before this year I didn’t know much about Ballard.  I knew some, but he wasn’t on a team I followed closely, that and for a few years I was living in a place with not so great internet nor tv service.  I was excited when I found out he was traded to the Canucks.  I mean you can’t go wrong with blueline depth can you?  I did some research, learned a little about him beyond the Vokoun incident, and I was going to wait until the season started to pass judgment.  I can’t say I actually waited that long, I think it was the first interview.  He has a great sense of humor in interviews; he is a Minnesota boy, and the hipchecks!  How could you go wrong? 

    On some level, the Minnesota boy thing was what won me over.  Being from Minnesota it was special, weren’t a lot of Canucks from the US, and now we had 2 from Minnesota!  Alberts and Ballard are my Minnesota connection.  And of the two, Keith Ballard quickly became my favorite.  Sure, he had his ups and downs and those injuries.  I can’t analyze as well as some, most of my thoughts are just that, reactions to what I see.  It might have been Keith’s worst season as far as points and playing time go, but he had games where it just seemed like he dominated and was all over the ice, it seemed like he played more than 15 minutes sometimes, even if he only played 15 or less.  And like all players, he made mistakes, sometimes they were costly, sometimes they weren’t, but it always seemed he played from the heart.

    No matter what happened, it seemed like he played any role given to him well.  He mentored little Tanev, he stabilized the bottom parings no matter how they rotated around him, he gave hilarious interviews, and he played whatever role was needed, is still needed of him as a consummate professional.  Yet, he could still laugh about it.  He still pulled pranks, joked, got excited for his teammates.  You’d rarely see the frustration shine though.  And that endears him to me even more.
    If those where his dues, then they should be paid in full.  I hope that he when he plays in the next round, when he is back next season; I hope that he shows everyone just how amazing he is.  I have to believe he will be back, because other wise my heart will break a little no matter how far the Canucks go this season.  And if I have been saving up every penny I get (I have) just to buy his jersey, then I want it to be a Canucks jersey.

    Sometimes, I want to analyze everything, season numbers, the career numbers, the points, the TOI, you name it, because it of a need to justify why he should be playing, why he should be playing more, why he is my favorite.  Then I remember that he is my favorite, there is no need to justify that nor is it possible to qualify just why.  We all like different players for different reasons.  There are no set rules for it.  Your favorite doesn’t have to captain, the highest scorer, the enforcer, the rookie.  There is no rhyme or reason for it, it just is.  I don’t even think you make much of that decision, it just happens, one day you wake up and you have a favorite player.  And Keith Ballard tops my list of favorite hockey players.  He joins some pretty special company: Markus Naslund and Jaromir Jagr.


    You can follow Kate at @kleine_snowdrop and make sure you check out her great photo blog Kleine Snowdrop's Journey

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    My thoughts go out to the Boogaard family

    Times like this it doesn't matter who you cheer for....

    My thoughts go out to the Boogaard family as we learn that Rangers forward, Derek Boogaard has passed away. He was only 28.|NYR|home

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    I figured it out

    I think I know why Keith Ballard hasn't been playing, he must of stole Alain Vigneault's pet rabbit. He claims to have taken one on a trip, in his bag, for good luck so maybe he tried it again and it obviously hasn't work...He took the wrong rabbit

    Also I'm not sure how I missed this, it's From Ian walker. I follow his stuff almost as much as anything Ballard related,  so how I missed this is beyond my comprehension. My investigative skills seem to be about as good as Ballard playing playoff hockey lately.

    Keith Ballard was a nerd in school. Is anybody surprised by this?

    for the record, I had  hard time making jokes about Ballard not playing.

    Blackhawks Down, Tennessee-ya

    (wish I could take credit for that title, thank you Ron MacLean)

    I'm not sure which, outside of the actual game, I enjoyed more... This:

    or this:

    or this:

    First off, What a game, so happy they got it done in 6 and now some rest time and hopefully the Wings push a game 7. I have to admit though, I wasn't as excited as I was when they beat the Blackhawks. I'm more relieved that this second round is over and of course I'm happy but I was absolutely almost pee my pants ecstatic when they beat the Blackhawks.

    Anyway, I did this at the end of the 1st round so I'll do it again:

    Dear Keith Ballard,
    I don't even have words, miss watching you play. Now they only glimpse we get of you is when you look like an excited little kid peeking his head around the corner to see who the next player coming into the room is in the post game celebrations (seen above). PITB is trying to get Bieksa on twitter, beat him to it!..Do it!!.

    Dear Kevin Bieksa,
    You have totally stole the funny award away from Ballard. That's right, I'll admit it. Although 4 is always 1 and 3 is 2 (it's not a math problem). I think I called you a sexy bastard after that interview with Scott Oake last night, I also called Burrows a french bastard last series so don't take offence. I really need to find a word to replace bastard, a nice word. I'd love to buy you some shots, shots, shots, shots, shots one day. You need to get on twitter, PITB says so.

    Dear Pekka Rinne,
    Holy hell dude, I thought Crawford amazed me last round, you totally blew my mind. I never want to see the Canucks face you again, ever.

    Dear Nashville Predator fans,
    You guys are class acts, I enjoyed interacting with you guys quite a bit during this series. Wish I could say the same about other fan bases, I know there are assholes in every fan base but a few are worse then others. Be proud, your team brought the #1 team in the NHL to a game 6 and made many of their fans nervous. 

    That's all I have for today, Can't wait for Sunday!

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Lets Get Serious

    Is Rome really better then Ballard?

    Does Ballard have an undisclosed nagging injury?

    Is there problems behind closed doors, and it’s not necessarily his play that are keeping him out?

    I wish I knew because it’s driving me insane. I know I started this blog because he is my favourite Canuck, I do not know him and I do not know everything about him. I can’t imagine how he feels right now with all these ups and downs of good games, a few slip ups in the next game and being a scratch. I know the constant questions people ask me because I have this blog frustrate and sadden me because I don’t know why it’s happening, I can imagine it’s got to be 10 times worse for Ballard himself.

    This is what I do know.....

    When the Canucks acquired Keith Ballard, in a trade, during the draft in June, I didn’t know all that much about him, I looked to my forum friends* for more knowledge. Slowly learning things and in training camp, during interviews he mentioned multiple times that he was excited to be in a huge hockey market, in a city that cares so much about hockey. I was instantly hooked.

    I didn’t expect a whole lot at the beginning of the season, he had  just come off of off-season hip surgery. Something that kept him off his feet for part of the summer so he was behind on conditioning coming into training camp. I expected a slow start. He also had a new city, a new country, new team mates and becoming a father for the first time to get used to. Some is just part of the life of a professional hockey player, I guess.

    His season did start off slow, and only got worse when he suffered a concussion on October 15th in a 4-1 loss to the LA Kings. He missed 5 games due to this and returned to the line up November 1st in a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. However, he played just 4 games before sitting as a ‘healthy scratch’ for 4 games. It has since been said that he still wasn’t feeling 100% when he came back, partly due to just the lack of exercise while dealing with the concussion.

    On February 7th he suffered yet another blow when only 2 minutes into a game against the Ottawa Senators he was slew footed by Milan Michalek and an MRI revealed a mild knee sprain and he was said to be out 3-4 weeks. He ended up being back sooner then expected missing only 6 games in a 15 day span. It was said at the time that he hadn’t taken a single day off, from the day he was injured he spent every day rehabbing his knee until his return against the Montreal Canadiens on February 22nd.

    Through much of January through March he was paired with young Chris Tanev, a promising upcoming defencemen who ended up playing a much larger roll with the big club this year due to The Canucks blue line injury problems.  I said a few times that I couldn’t wait for a healthy blue line so that we could see what Ballard could do when he wasn’t playing a ‘babysitting’ roll being paired with Tanev. However, looking back now I can see how much Ballard actually shined in that roll, I even joked about Tanev being Ballard’s adopted son because they just worked so well together. I now miss this pairing, and would much rather see it then Alberts and Rome, although the physicality factor isn’t there with bean poll baby Tanev.

    From there it just seemed to keep going down hill, not that it was ever all that high to begin with. Shortly after he came back from his knee injury he talked about how he still felt pain, and may feel pain for the rest of the season. Jason Botchford also reported that not long after coming back he was suffering from an unreported groin injury. It was around this time that everyone really started getting going on the Rome vs Ballard ice time, debates and jokes. I used to get in on it as well, more of a half joke because I honestly was not that concerned. I was positive that come the end of season and playoffs that we would see a big jump in Ballard’s play and that he would have a huge post season.

    Boy was I wrong. Clearly, Ballard did not have a good season even beyond the concussion and knee problems. Looking back on past seasons his point total (7) was very low even taking into account games missed. I wonder if it’s possibly to do with the fact he just couldn’t get going for a long enough pace to feel comfortable. Certain players need set amounts of ice time and a long playing period to get comfortable, his play was broken up all season.

    Now the playoffs are here and it’s a very critical time and since he didn’t have a great season, he is on a very short leash for things he can do wrong before he is scratched. After 3 games of below average hockey he was scratched for games 5 and 6 of the Blackhawks first round series. He came back and had a great game, albeit only 11 minutes TOI, in game 7  in which the Canucks won to move onto the second round. He had a great game 1, again with only 11 minutes TOI, in the Predators series and I thought maybe this was the breakout I had predicted. Then game 2 came and he did not play so well, he made a critical giveaway to Jordin Tootoo with the game tied and then was out of position on the OT goal allowing the Predators to score and tie the series 1-1.

    I’m not going to debate who the  better players are, who deserves to be in because that has been beat to death. I’m going in a different direction, how all this must feel for Ballard. The big thing Alain Vigneault has said that money doesn’t determine who he plays, or how much he plays a certain player. Understandable, however, a player is paid based on how well they play and are expected to continue playing. How does Ballard feel being paid 4.2 million dollars, and he is sat in favour of a player who is paid $750,000? Does he feel that he has sunk down that much as a player? He gets to sit in the press box and watch Rome play average hockey and make the same, if not more, giveaways but still get played over him. Perhaps Rome gets more lee-way because he isn’t expected to be a star defencemen and these mistakes are more acceptable in the mind of the coaching staff. Overall, this has to be affecting his confidence in himself.

    His confidence has to be pretty low, even though in a recent interview he says it hasn’t effected his confidence. When you watch interviews from the beginning of the season, or even  from just a month ago you see a happy, joking, sarcastic guy. You look at interviews over the past  couple weeks and you see someone who doesn’t look at the camera, has no jokes and is giving short Ryan Kesler like answers. Not the Keith Ballard I remember, and not the Keith Ballard I want to see. Some may attribute this to the playoffs being a more stressful important time, but take a look at Kevin Bieksa, he's actually become funnier as the playoffs progress. I think a lack in confidence in himself, brought on by the lack of confidence from the coaching staff is leading to him being a different player. He is nervous, and he’s not going to think he can do everything right, this will lead to the mistakes we see with shaky passes, bad give aways and bad penalties. 

    It looks to be pretty clear that this will be the only season we see Ballard on the back of a Canucks jersey unless there are coaching changes. We all know which one is more likely. This makes me extremely sad as I know the potential Ballard has if given the proper opportunity and would love to see it with him still wearing a Canucks jersey next season. Part of me hopes he demands a trade at the end of the playoffs, and goes to a team where he can shine like he’s supposed to. I will always be a Canucks fan, they will always be my number 1, but I am also a huge Ballard fan and if he does go, I will take some liking to wherever he ends up.  The other part of me hopes that this is all just craziness and he will be back as one of the Canucks top 4 defenceman next year, playing a strong confident game and showing the coaching staff he can play the way

    Look at this Video, I want to know what happened to *this* Keith Ballard.  I want that player back

    *I feel the need to make it clear by forum friends, I do not mean forums, never trust a word from there.

    Finally, a bit of a disclaimer of sorts:

     Dear Keith,

     I know from reading Brad Kuzma and Brad Zeimer's articles it would almost contradict some things I've said here, so I may be completely wrong, or maybe you're just being completely professional about it. I didn't come up with these thoughts on my own, it came from many conversations and e-mail exchanges with your biggest supporters. We are all rooting for you, hope to see you back in a playoff game soon, and of course in a Canucks uniform next year. I really hope you're in next game, with the chance to eliminate the Predators on home ice and you can be down there celebrating with the team. Which might I add, is a game I am probably going to miss. Thank god for @canucksgame and twitter updates, I really do not want to miss the game but not much I can do.


    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    My Reaction

    A few people have asked my reaction to reports from Dan Murphy and others that Ballard is the odd man out tonight, it's quite simple- I called it. Look at my last post from yesterday, I said it would happen and I tweeted it as soon as the game was over on Saturday. He didn't have an absolutely horrible game but it wasn't a good game either. Two things that really stood out were the Tootoo give away and positioning on the OT goal, those alone are what made me think he'd be scratched.  Disappointing after the 2 games prior to that. The thought of an Alberts-Rome pairing doesn't sound good to me, but, what do I know. Ballard is still my homeboy, and always will be, bad give away,scratch, or not. Kind of sad when I'm almost hoping he requests a trade this summer.

    With the new addition of Shane O'Brien to twitter I realized that Keith Ballard could probably be pretty entertaining as well. Probably not right now though, I guess, as he does not seem to be a very happy person in times like these. (I don't blame him)

    Anyway, I've been reading a lot lately, like a book every 2 days and I'm running out of books. Anyone have any good suggestions? hockey related would be awesome, but anything that isn't romance or Sci-Fi is good to me. Tweets , e-mail , or comments below would be greatly appreciated.

    Monday, May 2, 2011

    A Few Thoughts

    A few Random thoughts from the past couple days.

    •  After 2 great games, last game was a big step back. Ballard didn't play horrible but he wasn't the same as he was in the previous 2 games anyway. The Tootoo giveaway was bad, and being on the ice for the over time goal certainly didn't help and that was only 2 obvious problems with his game on Saturday night. I've pretty much convinced myself that AV will scratch him for Tuesday's game, because that's just the way he works. I hope I am proved wrong, but I doubt it. 
    • A Big shoutout to keepcalmcanucks  for the picture at the top of this post. It is currently the background image on my blackberry as well. Make sure to check out their other stuff, it's great.
    • I had a dream last night I was watching a Canucks/Predators game and the score was 0-0........going into the 4th overtime. This scares me, and maybe nightmare is a better word for it. 
    • Mason Raymond's 'Playoff Beard' makes me giggle.
        •  Finally, The US announced that they found and killed Osama Bin Laden last night, I stayed up late (late being past 830 when both my kids are in bed, this cold is kicking my ass) to watch President Obama give his speech and was flooded with memories of September 11th, so I'm going to leave you with something written by TSN's James Duthie. Something I read in his book and fell in love with and have read it so many times since I'm pretty sure I could recite it on my own.
        The Final Toll
        By James Duthie
         September 15th, 2001.

        We, in sports, seem determined to attach a number to everything, and the nightmare of September 11 is no different. The "Sports World," this imaginary bubble we supposedly live in, Lost LA Kings scouts Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis.  

        A Neat, tidy death toll, perfect for the tickers at the bottom of the screen. But wrong.

        We also lost:

        Soccer moms, and Little League dads, and big sisters who became corporate bigwigs, but could still whip you at 21 when they came home for Thanksgiving.

        We lost star shortstops from the corporate softball league, and secretaries who didn't play, but always brought the oranges, and cheered like you were Derek Jeter. 

        We lost 11-year-old boys who could have been the next Jordan or Gretzky, and four-year-old girls who could have been the next Mia Hamm or Serene Williams, not to mention whom they could have become in the real world. 

        We lost fans.

        We lost Mets fans and Yankees fans, and fans who couldn't stand either, which was a damn brave stance in New York.

        We lost Jets fans who'd always go to the game with the same three buddies, each shirtless with a big green painted letter stretching from navel to neck. and no matter how cold, they'd remain skin to the wind, screaming: "J-E-T-S, Jets!" Even when it was 21-3 Colts. 

        We Lost bosses you couldn't stand, until they invited you to the box at the Rangers game and you both wore your Messier shirts, and forever bonded.

        We lost girlfriends who left you alone on Sunday afternooons in the fall, or better yet, sat right next to you and cursed like a convict when Kerry Collins threw a pick.

        We lost guys from the mailroom who'd spend a couple days' wages to sit in the nosebleeds with their girl at a Knicks game, and stockbrokers in Boss suits who'd spend a couple grand to impress a model with courtsides. But they'd cheer just as wildly. New York has great fans.

        We also lost Red Sox fans, Bruins fans, Patriots fans, Capitals fans, Redskins fans, Wizards fans, and probably at least a fan or two for every team out there. Even the Bengals. 

        We lost fathers who'd take you to Mini-Putt and blowa  six-inch gimme on 18 every time to lose by one, so he'd have to take you for ice cream yet again.

        We lost mothers who somehow found time to run households with a bunch of kids, corporate divisions with hundreds of employees , and marathons in under four hours.

        We lost grampas who took you out for your first round on a real course, and pretended they didn't see when you teed it up on the fairway. 

        We lost coaches who'd work 60-hour weeks, and then spend their Saturdays trying to teach six-year-olds to stay in position, and not all chase the same ball.

        We lost entire lines from the Firefighters Shinny League.

        And you know what the saddest part of all is? Sports was just a tiny part of who these peoples were.
        We lost all of them. 

        Postscript: I was hosting TSN SportsCenter the day the planes hit the towers. We debated all day whether we should do a sports highlight show on a day when sports could not have mattered less in our world. We ended up doing a very sombre half-hour, mostly reaction to the tragedy from prominent athletes, and reports on how the various sports leagues would be cancelling games. I struggled for days to figure out how, and if, sports mattered in all this madness. Out of that, came this column.

        Great isn't it? lets see how long until they make me take that down. Anyway, that's all I have for today, this 2 days between games is really screwing me up.