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Keith Ballard limping, Canucks GM Mike Gillis fuming

Vancouver Canucks Keith Ballard reacts after his leg twists the wrong way after colliding with Ottawa Senators Milan Michalek during the first period of their NHL hockey game in Vancouver, British Columbia February 7, 2011.


Mike Gillis said it is up to the NHL to decide if Ottawa Senators winger Milan Michalek should be disciplined, but the Vancouver Canucks general manager was clear Tuesday with his assessment of an alleged slew-foot on defenceman Keith Ballard.

The Canucks rearguard had his right leg bend in an unnatural way after getting tangled with Michalek in the first period of a 4-2 victory over the Senators on Monday. Ballard's knee and ankle were pinned down by his own body weight as the players, locked by leg and arm, tumbled dangerously to the ice.

"I saw it as a play that, in my opinion, was a violation of the rules, and one that is not a highly respected play in this league, and at this level," Gillis said. "The puck wasn't near Keith when it happened. And I certainly disagree with that style of play."

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Asked if he would call the league about the matter, Gillis replied: "It's up to them if they want to look at those kind of plays … I don't look to influence them, but I didn't think it was a fair hockey play."

Ballard, 28, underwent a magnetic resonance imaging exam Tuesday, which revealed a sprained knee. He is expected to miss a minimum of three weeks.

The six-year NHL veteran was limping around Rogers Arena and talking to reporters Tuesday, which was probably a good sign. After all, the injury looked heinous, with season- or career-ending capacity.

"The knee feels better than yesterday and there's not much pain," Ballard said. "Right now, I can walk. If I was to do anything else, who knows? I'm pretty hesitant on saying anything until the MRI because you get thinking one way or the other and the MRI may show something different."

Ballard is likely to be replaced by rookie Chris Tanev for Wednesday's home game against the Anaheim Ducks.

Tanev was a healthy scratch against the Senators, and was the logical candidate to be demoted to the minors later this week, when Sami Salo is expected to join the NHL team.

Salo has been rehabilitating a ruptured Achilles tendon, and was scheduled to play his third minor-league game Tuesday.

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About the Author
B.C. sports correspondent

Based in Vancouver, Matthew spearheads the Globe's sports coverage in B.C., and spends most of his time with the NHL Canucks and CFL Lions. He has worked for four dailies and TSN since graduating from Carleton University's School of Journalism a decade ago, and has covered the Olympic Games, Super Bowls, Grey Cups, the Stanley Cup playoffs and the NBA Finals. More

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