Keith Ballard has been on the giving and receiving end of injury-inducing hits. In Game 4 he was the recipient of one from the Blackhawks’ Brandon Bollig, who received a two-game suspension for it.
The Minnesota Wild defenseman didn’t like the hit that kept him out of Game 5 in Chicago; at the same time, he understands that those hits happen now and then.
Ballard is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when the Wild host the Blackhawks in Game 6 of their second-round series. Bollig is out of this game, the final one of his suspension. Ballard spoke to the media following the Wild’s morning skate on Tuesday, saying he had no ill will toward Bollig.
“I don’t think it was a good hit, but I also understand the circumstances. It’s a big game, and he was trying to generate some energy,” Ballard told the media. “Sometimes the energy of the game, the emotion, the type of player — everybody knows what players are out there trying to generate some momentum and be physical, and he just maybe (went) a little over the line.”
Ballard also wasn’t concerned with Bollig contacting him about the hit.
“Too much gets made of the whole, ‘Did he text you?’ I don’t give a s---, I honestly don’t. It’s fine. That’s what happens,” Ballard said. “I’ve hit guys, and they’ve been injured. I don’t think it was overly malicious. It was probably a dumb play. That stuff doesn’t really matter to me; it’s part of the game.”
Ballard has suffered from previous concussions, including one sustained earlier this season. He said he wouldn’t be playing tonight if he were feeling any symptoms.
“We were trying to be pretty smart about it. There was no chance if I had symptoms,” he said. “I'd been through that before, been down that road a couple times, and the more you kind of learn about these things and the more information that's coming out, the long-term effects, they're not worth it to put yourself in that situation.”