Keith Ballard

Ballard: ‘Minnesota makes sense’ after Canucks buyout


Keith Ballard could be heading home.

The Minnesota native — soon to be officially bought out by the Vancouver Canucks — has received interest from the Wild and told the Star-Tribune he’d like to return to the place where he played collegiately.

“Minnesota’s an option,” Ballard explained. “I think for me Minnesota makes sense, that I’m familiar with the guys, obviously that I live here, that I train with some of the guys during the offseason.”

The 30-year-old defenseman could be a replacement for Tom Gilbert, who the Wild are buying out today.

As for the blueline makeup, Minnesota currently has five guys under contract for next season — Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Clayton Stoner, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser — with a new deal still required for RFA Jared Spurgeon.

Minnesota could also get 2012 first-rounder Mathew Dumba in the mix, though he doesn’t turn 19 until late July and only has a handful of AHL experience.

In the end, fitting Ballard in might come down to what he’s willing to accept.

The Wild are tight to the ceiling — $6.4 million in available space, according to CapGeek — and Ballard may have to take a reduced dollar figure with shorter term to get his ideal fit.

He said that’s not a problem.

“It’s not me looking to go play somewhere for a couple years and ride off into the sunset and have a little cash along the way and call it a day,” he said. “I think I have a lot of years left in me.

“But this is an important year for me, so it’s going to be what fits the best.”


Here’s more, from the Star-Tribune’s Mike Russo….


Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards
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The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?

Coyotes exploit another lousy outing from Quick

Jonathan Quick
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Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.

Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.

Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.

Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).


A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:

Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.

It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.


After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.

Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.