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Defender Berard is signed



Published: Thu, August 4, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The former Maple Leaf suffered a serious eye injury in 2000.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- The Blue Jackets locked up their second veteran defenseman in two days on Wednesday, signing Bryan Berard to a two-year contract.

The 28-year-old Berard, a 6-foot-2, 218-pounder with offensive skills on the blue line, will be paid $2.2 million per season by the Blue Jackets.

On Monday, the 5-year-old franchise agreed to terms with former Colorado defenseman Adam Foote on a three-year deal worth $13.8 million.

Berard, who played for Chicago in 2003-04, was the NHL rookie of the year in 1997 with the New York Islanders and won the Masterton Trophy in 2004 for best exemplifying the qualities of hockey.

"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."

Serious eye injury

Berard was one of the young standouts in the game before he was hit in the eye by the stick of Ottawa's Marian Hossa in March 2000 while playing for Toronto. He missed the rest of that season and all of the next before making a comeback with the New York Rangers.

He still has reduced vision in the eye, yet has improved his point totals in each of the three years since his return.

Berard, who also has played for Boston, had 13 goals and 34 assists during the last season before the NHL lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season. That productivity gave him more points than any other defenseman in the Western Conference and the eighth best total in the league.

He is expected to solidify a shaky Columbus defense in front of goaltender Marc Denis. The Blue Jackets already have several promising young players on offense, including Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev, but surrendered 50 more goals than they scored during the 2003-04 season.




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