Keith Ballard's career is over – and it pretty much has been for exactly one year.
On Dec. 9, 2014, Ballard took a hit in a game at Xcel Energy Center that left him convulsing on the ice. He was diagnosed with a concussion and facial fractures, putting an end to his 2014 season with the Minnesota Wild and ultimately, an end to his career.
According to the Star Tribune, Ballard is officially retiring from the NHL – and still dealing with symptoms from the concussion.
"One day, we were playing tag with the kids outside and I started getting real dizzy and bad headaches. I had to lay down and that seemed to trigger other things," Ballard told the Star Tribune. "Chopping wood one day, I suddenly had to stop."
Wild Xtra's Mike Berg was at the game Ballard was hit hard by Matt Martin of the Islanders, and he described the situation like this:
"What we saw there was disturbing to say the least. I looked down at the ice and saw a group huddled around someone, and when I looked back up to the jumbotron, I briefly saw Don Fuller bent over a player, and that player shaking violently as if in a seizure. (I am not a doctor, so I can only speak to what I saw with my own eyes, it was bad.) The screen went black, and then to a giant Wild logo. The arena was silent, other than a couple “Oh my God” comments from around the arena."
Ballard, the former two-time national champion with the Gophers, is looking ahead to the rest of his life, and walking away from hockey with his long-term health in mind.