SUNRISE – In the next edition of FOX Sports Florida’s Inside the Panthers, Cats fans will get to know Panthers star Keith Ballard. Hosted by Frank Forte, Inside the Panthers: Keith Ballard premieres on FOX Sports Florida Thursday, November 12, at 10 p.m. immediately following the Panthers game against the Boston Bruins.
Ballard grew up in the small town of Baudette, Minn., located on the Rainy River, which separates the United States and Canada in northern Minnesota. Ballard left home after his sophomore year of high school to join the U.S. National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Ballard represented the U.S. in numerous junior hockey international tournaments and eventually attended the University of Minnesota, where he was a key performer as the Golden Gophers won two NCAA championships in his three seasons there. Inside the Panthers talked with Golden Gophers Head Coach Nick Lucia about the impact that Ballard had on the team while he was there.
Originally drafted No. 11 overall by Buffalo, Ballard made his NHL debut with the Phoenix Coyotes, and after three seasons in the desert, he was traded to the Panthers in June 2008. Ballard is a fast-skating, hard-hitting defenseman known for his “old school” hip checks, a lost art in the modern NHL. Inside the Panthers spoke with Panthers teammates – and former Golden Gophers comrades – Jordan Leopold and Jeff Taffe, as well as former Gophers and current Buffalo Sabres left winger Thomas Vanek, about their relationship with the Florida defenseman.
Viewers will also meet Keith’s parents, Steve and Joanne, as well as his sister Jessie and brother-in-law Nick Anthony, who all are involved in the family business, Ballard’s Fishing Resort, which was founded by Keith’s grandparents in 1961 at Lake of the Woods, Minnesota.
Inside the Panthers is FOX Sports Florida’s original behind-the-scenes television series produced in association with the Florida Panthers. The show is designed to tell unique stories, provide unparalleled access and offer fans insight into their favorite players, coaches and franchise operations. Additional airdates/times for Inside the Panthers: Keith Ballard are available at www.foxsportsflorida.com