Bryan Berard

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Bryan Berard
Born (1977-03-05) March 5, 1977 (age 37)
Woonsocket, RI, USA
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)
Position Defense
Shot Left
Played for Vityaz Chekhov
Columbus Blue Jackets
Chicago Blackhawks
Boston Bruins
New York Rangers
Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Islanders
National team  United States
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1995
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 1996–2009

Bryan Wallace Berard (born March 5, 1977) is a former American professional ice hockey defenceman. Berard was the first overall pick in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators. He is most noted for a debilitating eye injury he received early in his career. Berard underwent several operations and played 619 games in his NHL career.

Playing career[edit]

Berard was drafted first overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. He would not play a game for the Senators, after informing the club he would not report. The Senators traded him along with Martin Straka to the New York Islanders for Wade Redden and Damian Rhodes. He was a successful player on the Islanders and was rewarded for his efforts in 1997 by winning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie player in the NHL. He also played for the United States in the 1998 Winter Olympics. After four years on Long Island, he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Berard played the last two seasons in Columbus. Besides his Calder Trophy season with the Islanders, Berard’s best season was 2003–04 in which he was 13–34–47 in only 58 games with the Chicago Blackhawks. In 619 career NHL games with the Islanders, Toronto, Rangers, Boston, Chicago, and Columbus, Berard has 76 goals and 247 assists for a total of 323 points. He is tied for 128th on the NHL all-time scoring list for defensemen.[1]

On March 11, 2000, while Berard was playing for the Leafs in a game against the Senators in Ottawa, the stick of the Senators' Marian Hossa clipped Berard in the right eye on a follow through, severely injuring it. The eye was severely slashed on the sclera which resulted in a retinal tear and a detached retina. In the hospital room after the incident, after being told he might lose his eye, Berard reportedly told his friends that he would play hockey again[citation needed]. Despite being optimistic about his future in hockey, he ended up receiving a $6.5 million settlement from his insurance company, what many considered to be a career-ending settlement.[2]

During the next season, Berard underwent seven eye operations, improving his vision in the eye to 20/600. He started working out again in April 2001 and started skating again months thereafter. Berard was later fitted with a contact lens that allowed him to meet the league's minimum vision requirement of 20/400.[2]

When it became apparent that he might play again, the Leafs stated they were interested in his services[citation needed], but Berard opted to play for a team that was currently rebuilding and was a bit closer to his home of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Upon signing a tryout contract with the New York Rangers, Berard returned his insurance settlement and risked a comeback to the NHL. He played well enough that his tryout contract turned into a $2 million contract for the 2002–03 season, plus two one-year options. However he was released by the Rangers after a disappointing season where he only scored 2 goals and 23 points despite playing in all 82 games for the Rangers.

Berard then enjoyed successful one-year stints with both the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks before signing with the Columbus Blue Jackets before the 2005–06 season. As a result of his perseverance, Berard was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for his dedication to hockey in 2004.

In early 2006, it was revealed that he had tested positive for an anabolic steroid known as 19-norandrosterone, in a drug test he had taken in November 2005. He was the first NHL player to ever test positive for steroids.[3] The NHL did not hand down any form of suspension to Berard, as they did not administer the test, but he was banned from international play for two years effective January 3, 2006.(dead link) Berard said after the incident, "I made a mistake that resulted in a suspension and, while unintentional, I take full responsibility. I became aware of this problem after the fact, and for that I am disappointed in myself."

Bryan Berard accepted an invitation to attend training camp for the 2007–08 season with the New York Islanders. Berard performed well enough to earn a one-year contract with the Islanders at the conclusion of training camp.[4] In his first game back with the first NHL team he ever played for, Berard scored the game-winning goal against another of his former teams, the rival New York Rangers in a 2–1 Islander victory.

Prior to the start of the 2008–09 NHL season, Berard was invited to training camp with the Philadelphia Flyers. He was not offered a contract despite tallying 2 assists in Philadelphia's final game in Wachovia Spectrum. Berard signed on November 16, 2008 with Vityaz Chekhov of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He scored 17 points in 25 games played.

Berard retired after the 2008–09 season. He lives in Lincoln, Rhode Island. He appeared in 2011 on the Battle of the Blades CBC television program.[5]

Awards[edit]

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1994–95 Detroit Junior Red Wings OHL 58 20 55 75 97 21 4 20 24 38
1995–96 Detroit Whalers OHL 56 31 58 89 116 17 7 18 25 41
1996–97 New York Islanders NHL 82 8 40 48 86
1997–98 New York Islanders NHL 75 14 32 46 59
1998–99 New York Islanders NHL 34 4 11 15 26
1998–99 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 38 5 14 19 22 17 1 8 9 8
1999–00 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 64 3 27 30 42
2001–02 New York Rangers NHL 82 2 21 23 60
2002–03 Boston Bruins NHL 80 10 28 38 64 3 1 0 1 2
2003–04 Chicago Blackhawks NHL 58 13 34 47 53
2005–06 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 44 12 20 32 32
2006–07 Columbus Blue Jackets NHL 11 0 3 3 8
2007–08 New York Islanders NHL 54 5 17 22 48
2008–09 Vityaz Chekhov KHL 25 3 14 17 103
NHL totals 619 76 247 323 500 20 2 8 10 10
KHL totals 25 3 14 17 103

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Ed Jovanovski
NHL first overall draft pick
1995
Succeeded by
Chris Phillips
Preceded by
Radek Bonk
Ottawa Senators first round draft pick
1995
Succeeded by
Chris Phillips
Preceded by
Daniel Alfredsson
Winner of the Calder Trophy
1997
Succeeded by
Sergei Samsonov
Preceded by
Steve Yzerman
Winner of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
2004
Succeeded by
Teemu Selanne