Originally posted on Fox Sports North  |  Last updated 7/5/13
ST. PAUL, Minn. --Chuck Fletcher's memories of defenseman Keith Ballard extend back to Fletcher's days in Pittsburgh, when he was the Penguins' assistant general manager.Fletcher, now as the Minnesota Wild general manager, remembered facing the Florida Panthers and a young defenseman, Ballard, holding his own against Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.In signing him to a two-year contract, Fletcher believes Ballard, 30, can get back to that point after a few down seasons in Vancouver."They would play Keith Ballard against Sidney Crosby, and it was a tough night for Sidney Crosby," Fletcher said Friday after the signing of Ballard became official with the opening of NHL free agency. "So, he competes, he can skate, he can move the puck and he's a good player. Our defense is much deeper today than it was yesterday."Ballard, 30, averaged 29.8 points per game his first five seasons in the NHL split between the Phoenix Coyotes and Florida. But a three-year stay in Vancouver, after he was traded t...
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