Canucks' Keith Ballard hopes to 'make most of opportunity'


Keith Ballard faces the media.

Keith Ballard faces the media.

Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG

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VANCOUVER — It's probably a safe bet that Keith Ballard has already figured out that two-thirds of $8.4 million is $5.59 million.

The Canuck defenceman has heard the suggestions that the team will buy out the remaining two years on his contract this summer.

"I don't know," Ballard said Thursday when asked if he expected to remain a Canuck. "I have got two years left on my deal. If I am, I am. if I'm not, I'm not. I'll make the most of an opportunity here or if I end up somewhere else."

With next year's NHL salary cap being cut by nearly 10 per cent, the Canucks face some significant payroll challenges and it is widely assumed that they will likely use both of their compliance buyouts this summer.

Ballard and winger David Booth seem the likely candidates.

Ballard has two years at $4.2 million a season left on his deal. Under terms of the new CBA, veteran players like Ballard can be bought out for two-thirds of the remaining value of their contract.

The window for those buyouts starts June 15 or 48 hours after the end of the Stanley Cup final and concludes on June 30.

"I don't know, I have to talk to Mike (Gillis) about that," Ballard said of the buyout possibility. "Maybe they don't want me at all, I don't know. We'll talk to him and try and get on the same page and work something out."

Things just haven't worked out for Ballard as a Canuck. He has spent more time in coach Alain Vigneault's doghouse than, well, Dr. Ballard.

Ballard was benched in favour of rookie Frank Corrado and did not play in Vancouver's four-game sweep at the hands of the San Jose Sharks. At least no one can blame Ballard for that.

Sitting against San Jose was one of many personal disappointments Ballard has had to deal with the past three seasons with the Canucks.

"It's not No. 1, but it's up there," he said of being sat in the playoffs. "I was disappointed for sure. But this has all happened so fast. All of a sudden you don't play. It has only been two days since we've been done so I haven't really had a chance to take a step back."

Ballard has handled his situation with considerable class, something he is proud of, and is adamant that his confidence has not been shattered. If he is bought out, he is confident he will find work with another NHL team. He said he is a better player than he was able to show in Vancouver.

"Yes, I am," he said. "I am fully confident in that. I am fully comfortable saying that."

Asked if he had been treated fairly by the Canuck coaching staff, Ballard said: "I don't know if that matters too much. It's reality. I said this a couple of weeks ago. Everyone wants to pick and choose the ideal situation for them, but in a team setting like this it's not always ideal for everybody. So that's my responsibility."

He also said his relationship with Vigenault was a good one.

"I get along with him actually really well," he said. "I don't always agree with his decisions, but that's life, right?"

Even though he's not sure he will be around next season, Ballard hopes the current Canuck team isn't blown up.

"I don't know, I think maybe losing 4-0, getting swept, kind of shocked everybody," he said. "I think you have to take a step back. I'm sure the public opinion is, fire everybody, rebuild and get rid of all the guys and that's not reality. That's not how successful organizations run things."

Canucks poll: Should GM Mike Gillis and/or coach Alain Vigneault be fired?

Keith Ballard faces the media.

Keith Ballard faces the media.

Photograph by: Jason Payne, PNG

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