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Bryan Wallace Berard (born March 5, 1977) is an American former professional ice hockey defenseman. 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 despite the seriousness of the injury.

Bryan Berard
Born (1977-03-05) March 5, 1977 (age 42)
Woonsocket, Rhode Island, U.S.
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 220 lb (100 kg; 15 st 10 lb)
Position Defense
Shot Left
Played for New York Islanders
Toronto Maple Leafs
New York Rangers
Boston Bruins
Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
Vityaz Chekhov
National team  United States
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1995
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 1996–2009


Playing careerEdit

Berard was drafted first overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. As the first overall pick - and with the Senators blue line among the weaker in the league, Berard felt he was going to step right into the National Hockey League. However, after his first training camp with the team, he was reassigned back to Junior hockey and Berard had concerns about the team's management. Concerned about his development with the club, Berard requested a trade.[1] In January 1996, the Senators traded him along with Martin Straka to the New York Islanders for Wade Redden and goaltender Damian Rhodes.

Berard joined the Islanders for 1996-97 season and made an impact right away. With 48 points in his rookie season, he led all defensemen on the Islanders in scoring and finished 9th league-wide for blue liners. He was rewarded for his efforts in 1997 by winning the Calder Trophy as the top rookie player in the NHL, edging out Jarome Iginla for the honor. 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 in exchange for goaltender Felix Potvin.

Berard put up 19 points in 38 games with the Maple Leafs following the trade then suited up for 17 more contests in the post season. In his second year with the club, he had 30 points in 64 games when tragedy struck. On March 11, 2000, during a game between the Maple Leafs and the Senators in Ottawa, the stick of the Senators' Marian Hossa clipped Berard in the right eye on a follow through, severely injuring it.[2] 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.[3]

Berard missed the 2000-01 season and 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.[3]

When it became apparent that he might play again, the Maple 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, he 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 2001–02 season, plus two one-year options that could have turned it into a $9.75 million pact.[4] 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 inked a one-year deal to join the Boston Bruins. With Boston, Berard began to return to his pre-injury form posting ten goals and 38-points, his highest total since his second year in the league. Despite his success, the Bruins balked when an arbitrator awarded Berard a $2.51 million contract and they walked away from the ruling, making him an unrestricted free agent.

The Chicago Blackhawks offered him a $2.01 million deal and signed him to a one-year contract. In Chicago, Berard's game continued to improve and he finished the year second on the team in scoring with 47-points, just one off his career best. He capped his year by being awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for his dedication to hockey.[5] With his career seemingly on the upswing, the Blackhawks and Berard agreed on a one-year $3 million contract for the 2004-05 campaign. Blackhawks General Manager Bob Pulford was eager to have him back:"His point production was right up there with the best defensemen. He excels on the power play and that's a huge part of the game now. It was important for us to get him under contract." But the season was ultimately cancelled due to labour unrest in the league and with a new General Manager replacing Bob Pulford during the cancelled season, Berard was not tendered an offer for the 2005-06 season.

As a free agent, Berard landed a two-year deal from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Columbus GM Doug MacLean felt that Berard's skillset was a perfect fit for his club. "Bryan brings a level of speed to our blue line that we've never had in the past," Columbus general manager Doug MacLean said. "With a more wide-open game coming in the NHL, Bryan should really flourish and we're excited about what he adds to our hockey team."[6] Unfortunately for Berard, while he had overcome the limitations of his vision to become a solid offensive defensemen, his time in Columbus would be marred by troubles with his back. His first season with the Jackets saw him post impressive numbers with 12-goals and 32-points in just 44 games but a back injury - and subsequent surgery - shut him down in March. In October, when he should have been gearing up for his second year with the club, he had another surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back and managed to play just eleven games with the Jackets.[7] In late February, just before the trade deadline, the team waived Berard, ending his time in Columbus.[8]

Berard accepted an invitation to attend training camp for the 2007–08 season with the New York Islanders. He performed well enough to earn a one-year contract with the Islanders at the conclusion of training camp.[9] 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. However, from there it was downhill and Berard managed just five-goals and 22-points while posting an -17 plus/minus rating.

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.

Post retirementEdit

Berard lives in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. He appeared in 2011 on the Battle of the Blades, a CBC Television program.[10]

Positive drug testEdit

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. 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. 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."[11]


Career statisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1991–92 Mount St. Charles Academy HS-RI 15 3 15 18 4
1992–93 Mount St. Charles Academy HS-RI 15 8 12 20 18
1993–94 Mount St. Charles Academy HS-RI 15 11 26 37 4 4 3 3 6 6
1994–95 Detroit Junior Red Wings OHL 58 20 55 75 97 21 4 20 24 38
1994–95 Detroit Junior Red Wings MC 5 1 3 4 6
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
1999–2000 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


Year Team Event   GP G A Pts PIM
1995 United States WJC 7 0 1 1 36
1996 United States WJC 6 1 4 5 20
1997 United States WC 1 1 0 1 0
1998 United States OG 4 0 0 0 0
Junior totals 13 1 5 6 56
Senior totals 5 1 0 1 0

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ McDonald, Joe (March 11, 2016). "Bryan Berard remembers the injury that changed his life". Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Kreiser, John (2002). "Vision quest: a devastating eye injury was supposed to have ended Bryan Berard's career, but thanks to unflagging dedication—and a special contact lens—the 1997 rookie of the year is back on the ice". Hockey Digest. Archived from the original on 2004-11-02. Retrieved 2006-05-13.
  4. ^ Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ "NHL Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy Winners". June 20, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  6. ^ "Blue Jackets add another vet defender in Berard". November 2, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  7. ^ "Defenceman Bryan Berard is activated by Columbus Blue Jackets". January 31, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  8. ^ "Blue Jackets re-sign Modin, waive Berard". February 26, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  9. ^ "Islanders sign Bryan Berard". October 9, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  10. ^ Craig, Gord (September 15, 2011). "Battle of the Blades: A look at the hockey players". Regina Leader-Post. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
  11. ^ "An NHL Milestone: Bryan Berard Flunks His Drug Test". Archived from the original on 2006-02-07. Retrieved 2006-05-13.

External linksEdit

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