ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard said Tuesday he disagrees with the hit put on him by Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig, but he doesn't want to make a big deal out of it.
Ballard was hit from behind into the boards by Bollig in Game 4 of their second-round series on Friday and fell to the ice and laid face down for a few seconds. He skated off the ice under his own power, went to the dressing room and did not return for the remainder of the game. He missed Game 5 on Sunday due to an upper-body injury. Bollig received a two-game suspension for the hit.
Ballard, who spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since the hit, will return to the Wild's lineup for Game 6 on Tuesday.
"I don't really care that much about it," Ballard said of the suspension. "I don't think it was a good hit, but I also understand the circumstances. It's a big game, and he's trying to generate some energy. I don't think it was a smart hit, but I don't think it was some of the worst things we see out there sometimes.
"I think sometimes the energy of the game, the emotion and the type of player -- everybody has those players -- they're out there and trying to generate some momentum and be physical, and it was just maybe a little bit over the line."
Ballard said he hasn't spoken to Bollig, but he doesn't care about that, either.
"Too much gets made of the whole 'Did he text you? Or did he ...' I don't give a s---," Ballard said. "I honestly don't. That's what happens, right? I've hit guys, and they've been injured. I don't think it was an overly malicious kind of hit. It was probably a dumb play, but that stuff doesn't really matter to me."
Ballard said he and the team's medical staff have been careful about not getting him back on the ice too soon.
"We were trying to be pretty smart about it," Ballard said. "There was no chance if I had [concussion] symptoms. I'd been through that before, been down that road a couple times, and the more you kind of learn about these things and the more information that's coming out, the long-term effects, they're not worth it to put yourself in that situation."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would not comment on the suspension, but said Bollig needs to find the right line to play on.
"He's got to be a player that plays on the edge, finding that line there," Quenneville said on Monday. "Just make sure you're playing hard. I don't think we want him to change his style of play, but knowing that there's always a line you have to be mindful of."