Berard battles for another job
Looking to add a little competition on the blue line for training camp, the Flyers have invited veteran defenseman Bryan Berard to camp on a tryout contract, The Daily Times has learned.
"Bryan has been around a number of years now (and) he has been a good defenseman for quite some time," said Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren. "I'm excited about Bryan's willingness to come here on a try out. It will certainly pick up the competition level of what is going to take place in training camp anytime you can add a player like him."
He was in this situation last year, looking for a home, and eventually signed on with the Islanders on a bargain-basement contract. Long Island finished fifth last in the NHL last season and didn't want him back.
It's a sad story, really. I wrote about it pretty in-depth last fall when he eventually found a home, but Berard was a truly gifted star when he came into the league and was, in my opinion, headed for huge numbers as an offensive blueliner.
A gruesome eye injury in March of 2000 changed all that.
In addition to his vision problems, which really affect the way he has to play the game, Berard has run into a slew of other injury woes recently, and has played in just 109 games postlockout. He hasn't skated in more than 58 games in a season since 2002-03 and is minus-74 in 167 games since that point.
His ice time has also declined the past two seasons and he hasn't played on a playoff-bound team in five years.
What Berard can do is produce some offence on the power play, but I just don't know if he's an NHL-calibre player anymore. It's admirable that he repaid a $6.5-million insurance settlement to come back to the game in 2001, but there's no question his earning potential was severely limited by that one errant high stick.
Now he's 31 and in tough trying to make the Flyers, who have some nice young talent on the blueline and newcomers Steve Eminger and Ossi Vaananen ready to step in.
Good luck to him.