Keith Ballard Discussion
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02-07-2013, 12:12 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2010
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After trying to be a player he is not, he is finally the player he needs to be for the Canucks.
“Part of the problem is I just was never really sure what I was supposed to do,” Ballard said Wednesday.
“I spent so much time last year on the mental side of things, working with a sports psychologist, because until I came here I never had any adversity in hockey. Going back to five years old, I just went out and played and didn’t worry about anything.
“I’ve put in so much work on the mental aspect of it that I feel like such a different person, on and off the ice. Coming into this year, I just felt like myself again.”
“What he has stopped doing is chasing the game all over the ice,” Canuck associate coach Rick Bowness said. “So now the game comes to him and he’s in control.”
Bowness, an assistant coach in Phoenix when Ballard began his NHL career with the Coyotes, remembers the defenceman when he was a minor-league prospect during the 2004-05 lockout.
“I’ve known Keith a long time,” Bowness said. “What I remember from Keith ... we saw an earnest kid who wanted to learn and wanted to work and wanted to do well. You never forget those guys. You know deep in their heart, they really want to do well. And you want to see them do well. I’ve got a lot of time for people like that.”
“My game fell apart for a year and it was a battle to get all that back,” Ballard said. “Last year, I focused on building my foundation back — being reliable and consistent and using my strengths. But I was very conservative last year. I wasn’t playing to just not make mistakes, but I wasn’t playing to make things happen. This year, we talked about taking that next step.”
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