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Keith Ballard: Reaction from Around the League (UPDATED)

Ballard2 There seems to be a little difference of opinion when it comes to what happened last night in Atlanta.

In speaking with Randy Sexton and Pete DeBoer, the thought is everything is OK. Tomas Vokoun and Keith Ballard spoke on the plane last night and there are no hard feelings. The league isn't going to suspend Ballard and neither is the team.

For the record, I agree with this on both sides. Ballard made a mistake; he wasn't being malicious and he definitely wasn't trying to hurt his teammate. He wouldn't do such a thing even if he didn't like him -- and there is no evidence to support such a theory.

Spoke to a couple of my beat writer pals, and this was a hot topic around the league today. Here's what I have been able to cull together. Will add more as they roll in tonight and tomorrow.

Let me know what y'all think:

Coyotes PHOENIX COYOTES, From Scott Cruickshank, The Calgary Herald

"I feel for Bally," says Shane Doan, the Phoenix Coyotes captain and a three-season teammate of Ballard’s. "Because that’ll be remembered — and shown — for a long, long, long time. He’ll never live it down. Bally, he’s a guy that it’ll just eat at him.

"There’s no discipline that anyone could give him that’ll even be remotely close to what he’s going to do to himself."

"Keith, he’s going to have to live with the fact that he pretty much two-handed his goalie across the face . . . and put him in hospital," says Scottie Upshall, sitting in the Coyotes dressing room after Wednesday morning’s practice.

"Right there, that’s enough grief and enough penalty to place upon someone.

"You know, behind closed doors, when you come in the dressing room, you can go off in the corner and punch the wall, do whatever you want," says Upshall. "But when you’re out on the ice, you’re a professional, you’re setting an example and you have a stick in your hand that, really, can be used as a weapon. When I first saw it, it was really shocking. And till it happened in your own room, you wouldn’t know what to do or what to say.

"I’m sure Ballard feels awful about it. But, at the same time, what if his actions took out Vokoun for the whole year? It’s serious stuff. It should definitely be looked at as, ‘You’ve got to keep your emotions in check.’ Swinging a stick, which seems harmless, can really be harmful."

Adds Vernon Fiddler: "Watching it on the highlights for the next six months is going to be enough punishment for the guy."

"A quality person," says Doan. "Meet Bally on the street, he’s the most gentle, nicest guy. One of the top guys I’d want on my team."

Oilers EDMONTON OILERS: From Jim Mathisen, The Edmonton Sun

"I respect the anger of the moment but as we've seen there are consequences you don't plan on. Only way it could have been worse was if he'd hit him again with his second swing. I'm sure when he's 85, they will still be calling it up on Bloopers." said coach Pat Quinn.

Expos MONTREAL CANADIANS: From Pat Hickey, The Montreal Gazette

"I hope he's (Vokoun) ready for the Olympics," fellow Czech Jaroslav Spacek.

"I've never seen anything like it before," said Jacques Martin. "Obviously it was a moment of frustration for Keith . They're both very competitive individuals. Obviously it was an accident and it shows they've very competitive."


From Adrian Dater, The Denver Post

Spoke to Craig Anderson briefly about it last night and his two word reply was: "anger management."

From Mike Russo, The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel  Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Nick Schultz:

Wild Heat of battle? “It’s a frustration thing. You’re chasing a guy back, you stop on one side, he’s on the other and score. I mean, obviously he’s not trying to hit his goalie. It’s a reaction thing. I mean, I can’t even imagine how bad he felt. It looks bad. He just tries to turn around and hit the goal post. Frustration.”

Have you done same before? “I’m not one for really breaking my stick. It happens where you’re pissed off. You see some guys break them over the bench and the stick goes flying up and can hit someone. When you react on the ice like that, it’s something where this can definitely happen. Strange things have happened, freak accidents like that. It’s a freak incident.”

You know ballard? “Yeah, you know he’s not swinging at to hit Vokoun because he let the puck in. He’s swinging because he’s frustrated at himself. It’s a reaction thing, frustrated. It’s just one of those freak accidents.”

Derek Boogaard

"If I did that to Backstrom, I would have had my gear off before I even got to the bench. I would have went straight to the dressing room and hid underneath the bus. And I would have gotten suspended.
Pretty intense though during game.

"He just skated away."

Shane Hnidy:

"It’s a level of frustration. He’s mad and not thinking. It’s such a game of reaction and emptions take control sometimes. I’m sure it’s something he’d love to take back. It’s just a moment of frustration where you’re not thinking and you don’t expect that to happen. It’s usually just your stick.

"Everybody’s done it, in games in practices, on goal posts, over the boards, anytime. MacInnis did that to somebody. It’s just one of those things. It’s rare, it’s unfortunate, but it happens. I can tell you I’ll try to remember this if I ever come close to doing it. I feel bad for him. He has no intent to hurt his goalie. He’s just frustrated at himself."

Cal Clutterbuck

"The thing that kills me, and we were all talking about it in here, is after he hit him in the head, he continued to break his stick over the post. You might want to see if you’re buddie’s OK, you just two-handed him in the face. You know? You would think you’d like bend over and see if he’s alright. He just left him on the ground, smashed his stick and skated to the bench. As we was getting carried off, the whole team’s around him and I couldn’t find Ballard anywhere.

"I’ve smashed my stick over a post before. It’s a bad break for him, but at the same time, he was in the middle of the net. You either break your stick over the crossbar or you swing it at the post from the right. You don’t baseball swing your stick from the middle of the net. Heat of the battle or not, there’s a lot more places you can break a stick than over your own goalie’s head.

"Obviously he didn’t mean to. I’m sure he feels terrible, but from the outside looking in, yeesh."

Niklas Backstrom:

"It’s a bad thing. It’s an accident. It happens. That’s what happens when you play with a big heart and emption, and you really care. Sometimes it’s tough not to show your frustration out there. It could happen to me. It could happen to the guy next to me. He didn’t mean to do it. It’s an accident. Accidents happen."


From David Pollack, The San Jose Mercury News

“I’ve smashed my stick a few times,” Dan Boyle said. “I saw it this morning. That’s pretty unfortunate. . . . I’d feel terrible if I smacked Nabby over the head. Vokuon’s all right, isn’t he?”

Should the team or the league suspend Ballard?

“I don’t think so,” Boyle said. “That’s an accident. It’s emotions – it’s not something you think about doing. It’s just a reaction.”

The same question got a different answer from Evgeni Nabokov.

“I think the team has got to suspend him,” the Sharks goalie said. “I would never probably talk to the guy again.”




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Note to Dan Boyle... if you still want Nabby as a friend, don't hit him over the head with your hockey stick.

That quote from Nabokov makes him sound like an an immature jerk.

Also, I hope he destroy Anderson and the Avs.

wow. honestly, why do i care what other players think? some of these guys have this holier than thou attitude and i've lost all respect for them. especially nabokov. no wonder the sharks are perennial chokers, they have leaders like him at the helm.

all of those hockey players can go to hell

I think there's a lot of ignorance here - Ballard didn't know he nailed Vokoun at first. It's not like he clobbered a teammate and just walked away. Give him at least that much. Besides, this is likely Vokoun's last year anyways and Ballard is on a 6 year deal. It'll be forgotten soon enough. Sad that this might be what is remembered from our season considering we're going to miss the playoffs again.

Andy is right though - a little anger mgt never hurt anyone. I think most south Floridians could use some as well!

Nabby is the only former Soviet quoted there. They're used to being stabbed in the back by their friends, so everything is personal to them.

O'm just curious tho GR. Did you copy and paste all the quotes or type them out? If you C&Ped them, what are emptions? Is this a new word you beat writers are creating for the NHL? If so, copyright it, like Pat Riley and Threepeat.

Oh and Colin Campbell said it best when he said the humiliation of the moment will do more than any suspension or monetary fine, as every sports show in North America and a few others around the world will be showing that clip for the next week.

Yeah, Clutterbuck. I'm sure Ballard planned out precisely where he was going to swing his stick and how. Hmmmmmm, post or crossbar?

I still think the Panthers should trade Ballard. Maybe a different environment would be better for him. If he was playing for a Northern team, they would boo him out of town. In Florida, they say, oh it was a mistake and he needs anger management classes. This guy is a 100% replaceable and should be suspended by the team for not paying attention on the ice. He obviously needs some unpaid time off for his misbehavior on the ice and needs to rethink where his hockey future is going.

p.s. Does Coach Deboer really have control of his hockey club?Blown leads at the end of the game? Ballard's recent behavior?

Ballard replaceable with who?The guy puts up 25 mins a night.Im pretty sure you didnt wanna trade him away when he laied out malkin and beat the crap out of crosby and changed that whole game(which they won).Might as well trade ovechkin, dont wont people that get two game suspensions for hurting other players.You act like ballrd met to hit him like he was aiming.

Ballard needs to get on the ice as soon as possible to put this behind him.

JimH he played last night after the hit. The hell with the hit, tell me, no show me what this teams going to do to improve. Move On Already

What happened

Hank is right we need to move on already, the real question is how this affects the team, do they actually show some character and come closer together or does it tear them apart and they go on a long losing streak.

Yes, Ballard did a great job deflecting in the Atlanta Goal last night into Clem's net. He is hundred percent replaceable with another defenseman. Trade him, his head is not in the game. Sorry, Ballard is no ovechkin.

I think that Deboer needs to be fired before the trade deadline in Feb. They do not have control of their players. Deboer players have meltdowns about every third period. Panthers will never make the playoffs since the coach cannot focus their players on the game.

FLA Kittens - maybe you will shut up before the trade deadline.

Right now, and they even said it on the NHL network last night, Ballard is one of the best defensemen on the team. Was he angry? YES! Is he the first player to hurt another member of their own team in anger? NO!

As for the deflection at the end, it could have happened to any player. It could have deflected off of Clemmensens pad. It just didn't help that it deflected off of Ballards stick.

As for getting rid of Deboer - he is not the worst coach out there right now and we are not the worst team. Do the players need to work on things? YES! When you call for his head, please remember that he has been one of the better coaches in the last 9 years and one of the only ones who has still maintained a winning record after a season and a half with the team. Not many other coaches can say that.

Enough already with Ballard. We've all made our snide remarks and jokes. Myself included on my blog.
We are in the middle of a losing streak! 5 games and counting and there's a game tonight. Instead of the team and many of the fans focusing on how things need to change people are still figuring out what to do with Ballard.

How about what wre we gonna do about winning? Scoring goals? Holding leads? Fixing the power play? Lack of mental toughness!

Stu and Cliff are having a town hall meeting tonight. Everyone should go to hear what is gonna be said!

I will continue to call out this team who has not made the playoff in almost a decade. Deboer's team is now known for blowing leads as they did last season. Deboer does not have control of his players nor does he pressure Management to bring in talented players. Deboer and Sexton should have been fired weeks ago. Where's the accountability?

This team has been setup to fail. Kiss the playoffs goodbye, as they have quietly inserted several lines of AHL players. They are at the bottom of the league and worst, picked the wrong draft year to tank it. I don't see any Malkins, Ovechkins, Tavares or Crosby's in the 2010 draft. What a joke a franchise.

P.S. We are all Panther fans, do not tell people to shut up Panther fans left. We should all demand more from our Florida team since they have stolen our money for 9 seasons with a nonplayoff team! half of Florida does not even know they exist except when there is a horrible injury on the ice.

Why do women always see the world in black and white, without any grey in the middle?

Kittens, if it was so easy to bring talented players just by making a phone call, every freakin team in the league would be ringing those phones off the hook. The Salary cap firstly, a team's own financial situation, and the willingness of other teams to deal talent, restrict the ability of a team like the Panthers to just acquire talent. A team like the Panthers needs to build from within, and that doesn't happen over night. Sadly, the panthers also have the problem of not having the people in management capable of doing the things that need to be done, and that is NOT Deboer's role or responsibility.

And the Panthers had two players the caliber of Malkin, Crosby, et al. Sadly, Panther fans chased them out of town, because both desired to win. Something ownership and management have been incapabale of doing for years.

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