Arguing with the head coach got Keith Ballard traded from Florida

keithballard2.jpgKeith 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.

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    Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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    For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

    They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

    • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
    • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
    • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

    Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

    Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

    Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

    Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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    The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

    (Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

    Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

    You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

    It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

    Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

    Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

    Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

    Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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    If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

    You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

    The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

    For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

    (Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

    The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

    Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

    Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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    It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

    The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

    The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

    One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.