Minnesota Wild v Dallas Stars

Amid concussion issues, veteran d-man Ballard retires

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After 10 years and over 600 games, longtime NHL defenseman Keith Ballard has officially announced his retirement.

Ballard, 33, is walking away from the game nearly one year after suffering three facial fractures — and what ended up being his last concussion — in a collision against the Isles on Dec. 9, 2014:

Ballard, who had a history of concussion issues prior to that incident, never played again following the Islanders game and has since re-enrolled as a student at the University of Minnesota, where he starred from 2001-04.

“I didn’t want to retire at this time, but with the bigger picture in mind, it was a no-brainer,” Ballard said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “You look at so many athletes and they struggle for so long and I don’t want that to be me.

“I want to live a healthy life, be there for my wife and kids.”

Ballard said he still experiences headaches, dizziness and fogginess, but explained the symptoms “aren’t bad like they were.”

Prior to finishing his career with the Wild, Ballard had spent time with the Coyotes, Panthers and Canucks. His most prolific season was in his rookie campaign, when he scored a career-high eight goals and 39 points.

Flyers’ Gagner has been dealing with a concussion

The evening of Nov. 23 turned out to be a rough one for Flyers forward Sam Gagner.

Gagner was left bloodied after he was flattened along the wall by Carolina’s Brad Malone.

Gagner finally admitted that the nasty gash wasn’t the only injury he suffered on the play. He’s also been dealing with a concussion.

Not many will be surprised by this news.

As you can tell from the video at the top of the page, Gagner clearly whacked his head on the ice as he was falling.

The Flyers placed the 26-year-old on injured reserve, which opened the door for free agent bust Andrew MacDonald to be recalled from the AHL.

Gagner skated for the first time on Monday and hopes to be back in the lineup sometime next week, per CSN Philly.

Update: Red Wings put Franzen (concussion symptoms) on LTIR

Johan Franzen
AP
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DETROIT (AP) The Detroit Red Wings have put forward Johan Franzen on long-term injury reserve because of concussion-like symptoms.

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland says Franzen is out indefinitely.

Franzen played on back-to-back days in October, returning to the ice for the first time in nine months. He missed 49 games last year because of a concussion and also missed much of the previous season with concussion-like symptoms.

When healthy enough to play, Franzen was a key scorer for the Red Wings. He has 187 goals and 370 points in 602 games since making his NHL debut during the 2005-06 season.

Also Thursday, Detroit sent center Andreas Athanasiou to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League.

Hurricanes’ Ryan Murphy suffered a concussion

Ryan Murphy
AP

Tough news from Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters on Sunday: defenseman Ryan Murphy is sidelined with a concussion.

The Hurricanes believe that Murphy was injured thanks to a boarding hit by Ryan White of the Philadelphia Flyers last night. Murphy is considered day-to-day at the moment.

(Video of that hit wasn’t immediately available.)

Concussions have plagued Hurricanes players in the past, particularly Jeff Skinner.

As Peters notes, Carolina’s defense is dealing with some health issues.

“We’re banged up in our organization the back-end,” Peters said. “We’re not going to call anybody up until we need to. We’ve got six capable bodies, and we’ll play them.”

That likely means some playing time for Michal Jordan (giggles).

Despres’ concussion symptoms continue, Ducks make roster moves

Simon Despres
AP
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Times are tough for the Anaheim Ducks, and the latest news doesn’t paint a picture that’s one bit rosier.

The team announced that defenseman Simon Despres is still dealing with a concussion suffered from a hit that took place about a month ago. The one bright side is that he’s at least starting the process when it comes to getting better.

GM Bob Murray said that it will still be about a week or two before Despres is even cleared for physical contact.

In other Ducks news, Anaheim recalled Nick Ritchie and Michael Sgarbossa while sending Max Friberg and Korbinian Holzer to the AHL.