Based on the defense pairings at practice, head coach Alain Vigneault appeared to be leaning towards scratching $4.2 million man Keith Ballard for the third consecutive game. Many Canucks fans have been mind-boggled by Vigneault's continued decision to sit Ballard and have accused him of playing favourites with Aaron Rome.
In an interview with the FAN 590, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis explained that Ballard is not yet 100 percent.
"Keith [Ballard] had an hip injury that he dealt with all summer long, so he was not weight-bearing for about two months. He got a bit of a slow start and then when he got the concussion he had to be off for a minimum of a week without any physical activity. It just seemed to set him back a bit."
Earlier this week when Dan Hamhuis was set to return from injury, head coach Alain Vigneault was asked who would be scratched from the lineup. He said that he was not sure yet but he will "[play] the players who enable you to win," leading Canucks fans to speculate that Ballard was scratched for performance reasons.
Gillis clarified that it was for health reasons and not performance-related.
"We're treating this as more of a injury-related than a healthy scratch because we don't think he's been 100% yet and so we're going to take a bit of time and let him work really hard and treat this as little bit of a training camp, so he can get his feet under him."
"Keith's a very big, important part of this team. He's going to be fine and we're very happy to have him."
Asked if Ballard would return to the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he replied, "I'm not sure."