(As a quick aside, the NHL’s drug policy is a joke and needs to be restructured immediately, but that’s a rant for another day.)
Part of me will always pull for Berard – though I’m sure that won’t endear me to fans of the Senators, for whom he refused to play after being taken No. 1 in the ’95 draft – as his is a career of potential that was lost; doomed by an errant stick, which in all likelihood robbed him of an illustrious NHL tenure.
Memories from my formative years are pretty sparse, but I vividly remember sitting in the visitor’s end of the old London Gardens – then the home of the Ontario League’s Knights – watching Berard patrol the blueline for the Detroit Whalers circa ’95-96.
The recollection remains because of his dominance.
Berard was a man among boys. When he, along with Sean Haggerty, a Leafs draft pick who played a total of 14 NHL games, were on the ice in an even-strength situation, the Whalers appeared to be on a power play.
The Woonsocket, R.I., native totaled 89 points in 56 games that season. He was unquestionably the most dominate junior player I ever saw live. And I’ve seen my fair share of OHL games.
Because I witnessed first-hand his promise and later watched in horror as it was cut short, I’ll always feel a connection to the offensive defenseman.
It’s unlikely Berard, 31, will be up to the task of taking a regular shift with the Flyers, who are already fairly deep on the blueline. Although there’s a chance he could slide in as the No. 7 guy or as a power play specialist.
I hope he does. I hope the man goes out on his terms, when he chooses, not because his immense skills were taken from him far before his time.
I present to you, the most awkward interview in the history of television. Had Zworykin known this would be the result of his work, he would have been a barber.
Edward Fraser is the editor of thehockeynews.com. His blog normally appears Fridays.
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