Color me cynical, but there has to be something more to the Keith Ballard/Aaron Rome debate than meets the eye.
When the Canucks face the Ottawa Senators tonight, Rome will again dress and Ballard will again be a healthy scratch. For the second consecutive game, the Canucks will dress their $750,000, no. 7 defenseman and leave their $4.2 million, top-4 defenseman in the press box.
Coming off hip surgery in the offseason and sidelined for a couple of games due to a concussion, it’s true that Ballard hasn’t played like a $4.2 million defenseman. To this end, Rome has stepped in and done exactly what a depth defenseman is expected to do.
Is Ballard still injured? Or has he been that vastly outperformed by Rome? Publicly, Ballard and Vigneault has both denied the former and accepted the latter.
But if Ballard, who is expected to be a key piece to the Canucks’ Stanley Cup puzzle, needs to get back in game shape, he needs to play. If Vigneault wanted to send a message that play dictates their place in the lineup, consider it sent after one healthy scratch. A second consecutive healthy scratch – especially coming a game after Alberts looked like the Alberts from last April and in a game in which Bieksa will play with the flu – and I think the message gets more muddied.