Vancouver Canucks: Could Keith Ballard's Injury Make Them Even Stronger?

James EdgingtonContributor IFebruary 9, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 26: Keith Ballard #4 of the Vancouver Canucks watches Joel Ward #29 of the Nashville Predators fall on top of goalie Roberto Luongo #1 during the first period in NHL action on January 26, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Ward was given a minor penalty on the play.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Sometimes life seems to kick people when they are down by handing them another dose of bad luck. But then life is all about dealing with the good, bad and downright terrible things that are often thrown at us.

During the course of an 82-game NHL season, each team will find themselves facing adversity. Take the New York Islanders, who, after having a few problems in net, decided to claim Evgeni Nabokov off waivers only to have him refuse to play for the club.

Or the Penguins, who were relieved to get star centre Evgeni Malkin back in the line up after a five-game absence due to knee problems and sinus infection.

Relief turned to dismay when the Russian tore the MCL and ACL in his knee and he will likely be out for the rest of the season. The loss of Malkin was just another slap in the face for a team already missing Sidney Crosby.

When Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard was seen writhing on the ice, clearly suffering a lot of pain in the early stages of Monday night’s game against Ottawa, it meant the club would have to survive another match with only five members of the defense.

Later in that game, Aaron Rome, who, along with Andrew Alberts, had previously missed a total of eight games each with injury, was handed a 17-minute penalty for an altercation with Chris Neil. Vancouver still managed to beat Ottawa even with that much bad luck.

Unfortunately, the Vancouver blue line has taken another dent, as Ballard will be inactive for three to four weeks with a mild knee sprain.

This season, the Canucks are perhaps better equipped to cope with misfortune than in other years. During the 2009-2010 campaign, hardship and bad luck was something the player’s coaches and management had to quickly learn to deal with. 

The troubles started early last season. In the month of October, eight players endured injuries, missing a total of 65 games. From October to March, there was at least one person a month recovering in the Canucks infirmary.

Alexander Edler, Sami Salo, Daniel Sedin and Roberto Luongo all suffered injuries, but the team kept battling on. It wasn't just afflictions to the roster that caused difficulties. Who can forget the grueling 14-game Olympic road trip?

This year, there have again been many injuries to players, which will undoubtedly continue. Stars Luongo and Ryan Kesler have welcomed new babies into their lives; any parent knows how disruptive the birth of a child can be.

Yet it hasn’t fazed them as they are each having stellar years.

One of the differences that separate this Canucks squad from those of recent years is the resilience, determination and maturity to overcome the bumps in the road.

Mishaps that would have derailed the club in the past are now actually making Vancouver stronger; the players have a greater sense of belief. 

Of course the steps management took in the off-season to create more depth is another reason why the Canucks seem to be so invincible.

There will be a time when the organization's resolve is tested even further, but the lesson learnt from last season will mean that the club is more prepared to tackle any adversity head on.


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