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.