Wednesday, February 28, 2001
By MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun
Of all the well-wishers contacting Bryan Berard over the next few
days, none stands to be more emotional than Marian Hossa.
Caught off-guard by the news Berard has abandoned his dream to
return to the National Hockey League, Hossa vowed to get in touch
with the ex-Maple Leafs defenceman.
"I heard it on TV," Hossa said after the Ottawa Senators' 4-1 loss
to the Buffalo Sabres last night at the Corel Centre. "I feel really
"I wish him the best. There's not much more I can say."
Hossa's stick clipped Berard's right eye during a game between the
Senators and Maple Leafs last March 11. Six surgeries later, Berard,
who turns 24 next week, is giving up hope of a comeback, agent Tom
Laidlaw said this week.
The announcement, while not unexpected, rekindled the debate over
mandatory visor use in the NHL. Only one Leaf -- forward Sergei
Berezin -- started wearing a face shield after seeing Berard collapse
to the Corel Centre ice surface in a pool of blood 354 days ago.
"I've been wearing it for almost a year since it happened to Bryan
so I'm getting used to it," Berezin said yesterday at Lakeshore Lions
Arena. "But it's up to each player to decide whether to wear one."
Goaltender Curtis Joseph said he would wear a visor when he joins a
recreational league once his days as an NHLer are over.
Captain Mats Sundin, who said it would be "smart" to protect his
eyes, tried a visor several times during workouts but found it
obstructed his vision. Garry Valk wore a visor for several practices
after Berard's injury, but said it fogged up too much.
While many Leafs wondered just how far Berard's career could have
soared had he not been hurt, just four players -- Berezin, Yanic
Perreault, Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky -- wore a visor
during practice yesterday.
Asked about the risk, Valk said "It's like race-car drivers going
out and racing five days after Dale Earnhardt was killed. You can't
go into games thinking it's going to happen to you."
Nevertheless the thoughts of the Leafs are with Berard, who is
hoping to collect a $6-million US disability payment from the
league. "Talking to the insurance people, there doesn't seem to be
any cut and dried way to proceed," Laidlaw said.
The Leafs have been looking for a quarterback to replace Berard on
the power play for almost a year. Bryan McCabe, Berard's former road
roommate with the New York Islanders, recently has shown signs of
taking over that role.
"Bryan was a great player, he could have been a Brian Leetch type of
player," McCabe said.
Winger Steve Thomas recalled being at Berard's bedside the day after
"Right from Day 1, that thought was in everyone's mind -- that there
was a good chance he wouldn't be able to play again," Thomas
said. "We went and saw him in the hospital and it was really
emotional. It was one of the most amazing things that has ever
happened in my life.
"Watching a friend, well, just walking into that room you couldn't
help but cry for him, cry with him."