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UPDATE: Keith Ballard Hits Tomas Vokoun In Head: Goalie Leaves Ice on Stretcher, In Hospital; Should Return Home Tonight ... Now, With Video

Ballard ATLANTA -- Florida defenseman Keith Ballard may have seriously injured teammate Tomas Vokoun when he swung a stick in frustration and hit his goalie by mistake.

Ballard was trying to hit the cage in disgust after an Atlanta goal and instead hit Vokoun in the head with a baseball swing as he was moving back up. The stick hit Vokoun flush in the mask, his head taking the full brunt of the blow.

Vokoun was on the ice for the past five minutes; Ballard skated off after hitting Vokoun, but Rostislav Olesz went over and quickly called for paramedics.

Vokoun hit in the side of the head and there was blood coming from his left ear where he was struck. Vokoun moved a little bit after being struck and did remove his own helmet by pushing it off just as he hit the ice and crawled into the net.

They have rolled him off the ice on a stretcher and he is apparently been taken to Grady Memorial Hospital not far from the arena. 

UPDATE: According to team spokesman Justin Copertino, Vokoun suffered ear lacerations and was alert when they took him off. He was treated on the ice by Dr. Gillogly of the Thrashers medical staff. Panthers athletic trainer Steve Dischaivi went with Vokoun to the hospital.

UPDATE2: Just spoke with goalie coach Robb Tallas who says he doesn't think Vokoun suffered a concussion and thinks he was just in serious pain and stunned because he didn't know what hit him. That's believable. I'm sure he couldn't believe he got hammered by his own teammate. Anyway, Tallas thinks Vokoun should be cleared and released from the hospital in time to catch the team charter back to Fort Lauderdale tonight.

More as the night goes on...

Here's what happened: The Panthers turned the puck over in the Atlanta zone, with Ilya Kovalchuk picking it up and going on a breakaway; Vokoun stopped the initial shot, but sat still on the ice as the loose puck was there. Kovalchuk easily picked it up and scored to give Atlanta a 2-1 lead.

Ballard moved in on the play and after the goal was scored, swung his stick toward the crossbar; he obviously didn't see Vokoun moving back as Vokoun was whacked by the two-handed swing.

Ballard again swung his stick -- missing Vokoun this time -- bashing it against the side as his goalie roiled back in obvious pain.

And let's get this one thing straight: It was obviously a mistake -- a stupid mistake but that nonetheless.

Ballard does that quite a bit, as do other hockey players. He was ticked about the goal (he was racing back and Kovalchuk beat him to the loose puck) so he went to smash his stick against the cage. Unfortunately for both, Vokoun got in the way. Just a brutal smack. Never seen anything like that before and I don't think we'll ever see Ballard do it again.

By the way, he's playing as is backup Scott Clemmensen.

Expect Alexander Salak to be called up tomorrow from Rochester -- if he isn't on his way to the airport right now.

More as we go...

Here's the video of the hit courtesy of someone on YouTube:


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It looked like T-Vo was bleeding from his ear (which was covered by his helmet). Hopefully it wasn't a concussion-caused burst eardrum.

Watching the television feed he was bleeding fairly heavily from the ear.

The eyes were glazed over and he was not moving. His hand was in the same position for about 20 seconds till they cut away from the feed.

Our prayers are with Tomas.


Great job getting the story up in a very fair way. As a hockey fan you hate to see anything like this happen. And as a Thrashers fan, I am jealous that the Panthers have you doing such a great job.

Wow.. way to go Ballard. I bet that guy is going to want to duck out of the locker room quick tonight.

I guess you guys get to see Alexander Salak.

ROCK BOTTOM. You'll know it when you get there.

Get well soon Vokoun!

tough break but he's got to make that save and coverup. the first goal sucks also

Sorry, Ballard needs to go. Ballard's head is not in the game when he is hitting his own goalie in the head. Also, bad is the sportsmanship of breaking your stick on the goalie post. I am tired of seeing these boneheaded plays by the Panthers. Waive him off the team in 10 days, Ballard is 100% replaceable like most on this team.

P.S. Another reason for Ballard to go is simple. Recall how poorly Oli played after the Zednik incident.

bad break, but Ballard is NO STAR on this team~

FSN reporting it's a lacerated ear. T-Vo is alert and responsive in an Atlanta hospital.

Bonehead move of the century by Ballard. Wow. I know it was an accident but man. "Hmm... I don't think enough of our top guys are hurt so lemme just whack our goalie in the head." Smooth.

Get well soon T-Vo.

reminds me of when Peter Worrell tried to do a fancy move during the skill competition and he injured Trevor Kidd, panthers overpaid for Vernon and Kidd was never the same again

Better quality video (also this one doesn't have "Ballard almost kills Vokoun!" as the title):


This is the type of thing that only happens to this team!

great game tonight hit your own goalie and get scored on with 5 secs left.Playoffs??? never!

Get well soon TVO.

Regarding the loss, same crap, different night.

wow, he never saw that coming. Ballard should "GO", what unsportsman like conduct. Nice way to teach all of our up and coming young players. BOO

Get well soon, Vokie. Your Nashville Predators family is thinking of you and praying for you!

Showed the video to my Squirt hockey player, reminding him why it is important to not let your emotions direct your motions. Too bad Ballard didn't learn that lesson when he was ten.

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