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Defenceman returns to Vancouver lineup after being scratched for two games

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

VANCOUVER - Canucks defenceman Keith Ballard says he doesn't want out of Vancouver.

Ballard's future with the club came into question after his agent told a Vancouver radio station he wanted to talk to Canucks general manager Mike Gillis about the blue-liner's situation.

"No way did I say I want to be traded," Ballard said Tuesday after Vancouver's morning skate in preparation for a game against the San Jose Sharks.

The 30-year-old American returned to the Vancouver lineup after sitting out the previous two games as a healthy scratch.

He said his agent Ben Hankinson spoke to assistant general manager Laurence Gilman.

But the defenceman declined to elaborate on the specifics of the discussion.

Ballard did not dispute coach Alain Vigneault's decision to sit him out.

"When you look at those last two games, I didn't play well enough," said Ballard.

Before being scratched, Ballard saw regular duty as a top-six defenceman. But he has battled to stay in the lineup at times during his three seasons with Vancouver. During the Canucks' run to the Stanley Cup final in 2010-11, he suited up for only four playoff games.

Ballard, who makes $4.2 million a year and has two years left on his contract, has been criticized for minimal production in Vancouver. But he hasn't had the same offensive role with the Canucks he's had in the past with other teams.

"The situation I'm in, the role I'm in, that's the way it goes," said Ballard. "It's up to me to make the best of it."

Ballard got an opportunity to play as defenceman Kevin Bieksa remained out of the lineup with a groin injury. Vigneault said Ballard was scratched the previous two games because he had not played well in three of the previous four contests.

The Canucks coach also wanted to take a look at Andrew Alberts and Cam Barker, who haven been scratched for most games this season.

Alberts, a defensive defenceman, was a healthy scratch again Tuesday as Vigneault sought to capitalize on Ballard's better puck-moving ability.

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