Keith Ballard Upends Jordan Tootoo. This was a penalty. Source: Canadian Press

The Ex-Panther Factor: Keith Ballard

Welcome to another addition of the Ex-Panther Factor where I will feature some Ex-Florida Panther(s) on a weekly basis and provide you with their latest accomplishments….or lack thereof.  Please note that this could be detrimental to a player’s career as in last week’s article one of the players I featured was Niklas Hagman of the Calgary Flames, and he was placed on waivers shortly thereafter.  I wonder if Jay Feaster the GM of the Flames reads the articles on this site.  Later that day during our Rat Trick Radio Podcast recording I spoke of Rostislav Olesz during my Ex-Panther Factor segment.  Yesterday the Chicago Blackhawks placed Rusty on waivers.  I must have special powers, cause that is just too coincidental.

Today we’ll feature a player that was a member of the Panthers for two seasons.  With the recent discussions of goaltender protection I thought what better player to discuss than former Panther defenceman Keith Ballard, who is probably most remembered in Florida for this.  (Did you see what I did there?).  Although he was also known for other timely maneuvers like this one against Evgeni Malkin, causing a fight wrestling match with Sidney Crosby.

Ballard came to the Florida Panthers from the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2008 along with Nick Boynton, when general manager Jacques Martin traded his whipping boy, Olli Jokinen as it became apparent that the two sides couldn’t mend fences.  Ballard had signed a two year contract the year before with Phoenix, but JM in an effort to provide stability signed Ballard to a very handsome gaudy six year deal at the tidy sum of $4.2 million dollars per!  Another one of JM’s head scratching moves, but hey, that was a much different time around here, and after two years, Ballard was sent off to the Vancouver Canucks on draft day in 2010 in return for Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and Vancouver’s first round pick which the Panthers turned into Quinton Howden.  A player with an extremely bright future.

Ballard had some good moments here as a Panther, but played with maybe a bit too much risk at times, taking offensive chances on a Panther team that was struggling to score goals.  He just seemed to sometimes forget that he was brought here to prevent scoring, not create it.  In the two full seasons he played Ballard totaled 14 goals and 48 assists to go with 160 penalty minutes.  Many of which were untimely.

As a Vancouver Canuck, Ballard played in 65 games last season with 2 goals and 5 assists and 53 PIMS.  He missed time during the season with concussion symptoms and a sprained knee.  Hardly a good return on their investment.  To add insult to injury, Ballard was a healthy scratch in numerous playoff games, as Vancouver went all the way to the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins.  While the Canucks played 25 total playoff games, Ballard appeared in only 10.   He had no goals, no assists and was a -4.  I’m not sure what it means when Aaron Rome plays more playoff games than you (14) but it can’t be good.

Ballard has begun this season appearing in all 18 games that the Canucks have played.  He has one goal, no assists and is a -10.  As he went into the game against the Blackhawks last night he had no points in his last 17 games.  The Canucks have struggled this season, and after a slow start are trying to rebound from their Stanley Cup Final loss.  With the loss of Christian Erhoff to the Buffalo Sabres this summer due to free agency, there’s a big void in the Canucks defence that needs to be filled.  It’s an opportunity for Ballard to fill, but at the rate he’s going,  and for the return the Canucks are getting, the only thing he’ll be filling is his wallet.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

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Tags: Florida Panthers Jacques Martin Keith Ballard Keith Ballard Hip Checks Keith Ballard Hits Tomas Vokoun The Ex Panther Factor Vancouver Canucks

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