A native of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, Bryan Berard scored 47 points in 32 games at Mount St. Charles Academy in 1993-94 before heading to the OHL. He enjoyed two stellar years with the Detroit Whalers/Junior Red Wings and helped the club reach the Memorial Cup in 1995. His accolades included being named the Top Rookie in the CHL in 1995 and being selected to the OHL and CHL First All-Star teams in 1995 and 1996. Following the 1995 season Berard was chosen first overall by the Ottawa Senators but could not come to terms with the team. He returned to junior and was named the CHL Defenceman-of-the-Year. The talented blueliner also played for the U.S. at the 1995 and 1996 World Junior Championships.
On January 23, 1996, Berard’s problems with Ottawa were resolved when he was traded to the New York Islanders in a complicated deal that also featured fellow star defender Wade Redden. After scoring 48 points in 1996-97, Berard was presented the Calder Trophy and appeared destined for stardom. Things didn’t work out that way as the Islanders’ were constantly rebuilding in the late 1990s and the young defenceman’s discipline and defensive ability were questioned.
Berard’s status dropped in New York to the point that he was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for veteran netminder Felix Potvin. His career was rejuvenated in Toronto where he was one of several talented individuals on a winning team. He helped the Maple Leafs reach the semifinals in 1999 and was a much-improved defenceman the next year.
During a March game at the Corel Centre in Ottawa, Berard was clipped by a high stick from Marian Hossa. The damage to his eye was so great that his career was considered over by most observers. Prior to the opening of training camp, Berard declared his intention to attempt a comeback. Several teams approached Berard with an offer, but he opted to sign with the New York Rangers. He made the 2001-02 roster with the idea that he would simplify his game and be of use to the revamped Blueshirts.
After only one season with the Rangers, Berard had a stop in Boston in 2002-03 before joining Chicago in 2003-04. Upon his arrival in the Windy City, Berard went on to record 47 points (13-34-47) and capped off his season, winning the Masterton Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to hockey before being acquired by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the summer of 2005.
On the international stage, Berard is a two-time member of the U.S. World Junior Team (1995-1996), the 1997 World Championship team and the 1998 Winter Olympic Team in Nagano.