Keith Ballard’s seemingly mysterious trade out of Florida this summer came out of the blue without much rumor or warning. Ballard was sent to Vancouver in exchange for Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner, and the 25th overall pick in the 2010 draft giving the Panthers some much needed forward depth while giving the Canucks a more formidable defensive unit.
While the trade made sense for everyone involved, the reasons for Ballard being sent packing became clearer today. As it turns out, Ballard and Panthers head coach Pete DeBoer didn’t exactly see eye to eye as The Province’s Tony Gallagher found out.
But as the story goes, Ballard was one of the guys who decided he’d taken enough and wasn’t going to put up with much more, at least not without letting his feelings be known.
“Yeah, that’s the way some have seen it,” Ballard said when asked about these exchanges, being careful to take as much of the blame as possible himself without pointing any fingers.
“There’s no doubt I had a poor year last year and he was riding me hard. He was trying to get more out of me and I felt I had more to give, that’s the coach’s job. And there were a couple of meetings. There were a couple of yelling matches, yes. And, yeah, the other guys heard them.
“We had our differences, and it got loud but I don’t think it was anything more than a coach trying to get more out of a player.”
Shouting matches probably aren’t anything totally out of the norm in most locker rooms. Not everyone on a team is going to play well together and have everything be hunky-dory. Disagreements occur and sometimes a coach that’s both new and trying to establish himself is going to run into some guys that resist.
Pete DeBoer coming to the NHL straight from the CHL goes from coaching teenagers to coaching professionals, many of whom have been around the league and back again. Coming out with a brash style can rub guys the wrong way and it’s safe to say that Ballard got rubbed right out of Florida. Getting dealt to a team that will contend for the Stanley Cup makes for a pretty sweet bonus out of everything. Perhaps the aggravation is worth it then.
Then again, maybe DeBoer was just a huge Tomas Vokoun and was holding a really hard grudge for past grievances.
Nolan Patrick will miss the upcoming World Juniors due to an injury that has kept him out of game action since mid-October.
Hockey Canada made the announcement Monday evening.
Patrick is a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He was recently named to Canada’s selection camp, however the 18-year-old forward has only played in six games with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings this season.
He has four goals and nine points, his season reduced because of this upper-body injury. Per Hockey Canada, Patrick hasn’t been medically cleared to attend the camp, so therefor he will miss the entire tournament.
Patrick has already missed the annual series last month between Canada and Russia. He also underwent sports hernia surgery in July.
Related: Pre-game reading: Some advice for Nolan Patrick
Roberto Luongo was on his game in the first period versus the Boston Bruins on Monday.
The Florida Panthers goalie was called upon to make 14 saves in the opening 20 minutes, and none better than this glove stop on Ryan Spooner.
Spooner appeared to have the wide open net on a cross-ice pass, but Luongo threw up the glove in spectacular fashion to deny the Bruins forward less than three minutes into the game.
The Philadelphia Flyers have had their share of good news lately. They’ve won five in a row and goalie Steve Mason has been solid in that span, being named on Monday the NHL’s first star for the week.
But it hasn’t all been positive.
Forward Matt Read is out of the lineup for at least four weeks with an upper-body injury, the Flyers announced Monday. The injury occurred during Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators.
It’s been reported the injury is an oblique muscle pull.
With Read out, the Flyers have recalled Taylor Leier from the American Hockey League.
Leier has been very productive in the minors. In 22 games this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he has six goals and 20 points.
The topic of a possible Wild Card play-in game being added to the NHL’s playoff format isn’t new.
General managers around the league have talked about it before. The idea recently seemed to gain traction with at least the small majority, too.
Hockey insider Bob McKenzie once polled all 30 GMs to get a sense of how many would be in favor of such a thing — and 16 of those GMs were. You can count Ken Holland with the Detroit Red Wings as someone who would like to see a Wild Card play-in game.
Holland is also a baseball fan and likes the way MLB has created must-watch play-in games. In baseball, there are three division winners in each league. Those three teams qualify for the division round of the postseason. Two wild-card teams in each league square off in a one-game play-in to decide the fourth divisional qualifier on each side.
“I’m all for an extra team in each conference qualifying for the playoffs and having a wild- card play-in game,” said Holland. “It would add excitement down the stretch for many more teams fighting for the additional wild-card spot and two extra teams would be involved in the playoffs. Those play-in games would be dramatic.”
Of course, the interesting thing about that is the Red Wings have a streak of 25 consecutive playoff appearances on the line.
But their best days — when Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg led them to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the final the following year — are long behind them. The organization has undergone substantial change with Zetterberg getting older, the loss of Datsyuk to the KHL and Mike Babcock joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Red Wings could be in real danger of missing the post-season under its current format in 2017.
Detroit is two points out of the second Wild Card spot in the East, with New Jersey and Boston still ahead of them, although not currently in a playoff spot.